Often, I find a health topic from an email sent to the heartwiseministries.org website. “I travel extensively, sometimes great distances over an extended period of time. After every trip, I feel washed out for about a week. I take my medications faithfully. Do you have any suggestions?”
Many are travelling and the world is smaller than ever. During the holidays and in the summer, even more travel occurs. Our bodies’ function depends on many complex interactions. These interactions, such as sleep patterns, eating patterns, and habits of movement can be changed dramatically during travel.
I have patients every week asking about travel. I do not recommend taking a trip if you are having symptoms, just finished a medical procedure, or are taking a new medication. If you have health issues, discuss them with your provider before travel.
Here are my top ten travel tips to help you stay healthy.
1. Drink lots of water. Whether travelling by plane, train, boat, or automobile, make sure you are hydrated. Every chemical reaction in the body depends on water. You need to keep the parts lubricated.
2. Move every hour and try to maintain an exercise program. Travelling often involves extended periods of sitting, which causes the blood flow to diminish. Moving helps lower the risk of clots in the veins and increases metabolism. If you can maintain a movement program, this will also lower the stress chemistry that comes with travelling.
3. If possible, maintain your own time zone. This includes eating and sleeping patterns. This will cause lead to less disruption of circadian rhythms which regulate the entire body. Recovery back home will also be easier.
4. Avoid stimulants like caffeine and energy drinks. This disrupts sleep patterns.
5. Avoid big meals before lying down, preferably four hours before sleep. Politely say “no” or just have a nibble. Try not to break eating patterns even if everyone is eating big at night or on off hours. This is crucial if you intend to rest well.
6. Take medications from home and have a copy of your medical records. An ideal way to do this is to type out your medical problems, shrink them to wallet or pocket-book size and laminate. Often, medical records can be stored in your smart-phone or mobile device as well.
7. Be careful with the food and water. Water sources need to be verified. In some instances, it might be safer to drink other beverages. Food must be from safe sources especially freshly prepared food which depends on the cleanliness of others.
8. Carry insect repellent, as insects can carry disease. In addition, do not forget sunscreen and to pack “snacks” from home if possible.
1. Read up! The Centers for Disease Control has an excellent website for travel advisories and special precautions. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/
2. Make prayer and worship a priority asking God for health. Do not miss your worship time while travelling. Remember Daniel’s example. You may have to be a little more creative.
These are my top ten. Place them somewhere and review the next time you travel.