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Winter Wonderland Wellness: Navigate Health Holiday Travel


Another holiday is almost here, and many of us will be hitting the road to celebrate with friends and family near and far. 


There is so much to do to get ready. In the hustle and bustle of it all, we often forget to put staying healthy during holiday travel on the to-do list, too. 


Here are a few things that are easy to implement in your healthy holiday travel plans.   These ideas will help you enjoy the season and come home afterwards without nursing an illness or getting therapy for a nervous breakdown. 


Speaking of nervous breakdowns… 


So much to do and so little time left before you get on the road. How do you get it all done? 


A “To-Do” list is a great way to reduce holiday travel stress. Just taking 10 or 15 minutes to write it all down will help ensure that you don’t miss a thing that needs doing. 


A packing list is a great idea, too. Smarter Travel came up with a complete list that will help you remember the tiniest of details. The list is broken down into clothes/accessories, toiletries, carry-on, and miscellaneous. Click on this “Ultimate Packing List” to get your own copy. 


And we’re off! 


Now that everything is done and packed, it’s time to head out for your holiday travel destination. Traveling by car or air is known to wear the body out, taking a toll on your health. What will make it worse is dehydration. 


According to Cleveland Clinic, it can take the body up to three days to recover from dehydration. This can make things like jet lag, headaches, and fatigue difficult to overcome. 


There are ways to ensure dehydration doesn’t derail your holiday plans. Of course, the most important one is drinking plenty of water. 


I know you don’t want to have to make any stops. However, a little extra time for bathroom breaks will be worth it when you arrive ready, willing, and able to enjoy the festivities. 


Another hydration concern is getting in your electrolytes. Those are the essential minerals our bodies use to balance our fluids and help the nerves and muscles function.   


If you tend to get muscle aches and cramps when you travel, you may be low in electrolytes. (If muscle pain and cramps are a regular occurrence, you should follow up with your doctor to rule out any possible serious health issues). 


The good news is, that generally, it is easy to get your electrolytes naturally. Things like coconut water, bananas, dried apricots, and even yogurt are high in electrolytes. They are also not difficult to pack in a snack bag or pick up while you are on the road. 


It’s not just the holiday season… 


That’s right, just in time for being around a lot of people; it’s cold and flu season, too. But fear not! There are plenty of ways to see family and friends while decreasing the likelihood of getting ill while you travel for the holidays.    


First, and I know everyone is tired of hearing it, but wash your hands. Handwashing does not mean you will avoid every germ out there. It will, however, reduce the volume of germs your immune system has to deal with.   


If you happen to find yourself someplace where you can’t wash your hands, use hand sanitizers. They are more effective than doing nothing at all. 


Speaking of your immune system, start boosting it before you get on the road. Dr. McKitish, in an interview with Travel + Leisure, recommends that people supplement with immune boosting vitamins.   


Dr. McKitish advises supplementing with vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and probiotics to get your immune system up to snuff.   She finds that it is a good practice to start taking these supplements 3-5 days before traveling and continuing straight through until you are home from your holidays safe and sound. 


Don’t let stress run away with your holiday cheer. 


Finally, stress less by going with the flow. Things happen:  wrong turns, forgotten items, delays.  


Though disconcerting when they happen, they are all survivable. You are entitled to a brief moment of losing your cool, like maybe a level 2 on the Richter Scale. (You’re only human). Then, take that calming breath and sort it out.   


Sage Grazer, a psychotherapist, uses a grounding technique to get back to a calmer state. Click on  “5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique” to learn how to do it during your holiday travels. 


It is how we think about a problem, rather than the problem itself, that causes our stress. Look for a silver lining, or see if you can find the humor in a situation.  


Wrong turn? Backtrack or let the GPS get you headed back in the right direction. Forgotten item? I bet you can replace it where you’re going.   


Delays? Find out what you can do about it. Then, once you’ve done what you can, put your feet up, sip your water, and know you will get where you’re going eventually.   


Accept that mess-ups can be part of the journey. It all comes down to how you look at it. Besides, now you’ll have an entertaining story to share when you get to where you’re going.   


Here’s hoping all goes according to plan for everyone traveling this holiday season. Plan ahead, stay hydrated, boost your immune system, and above all, don’t let that “left turn in Albuquerque” ruin your holiday plans.   Wishing everyone safe travels and a happy and healthy holiday season! 

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