I think one of my biggest travelling fears has to be getting sick while away. It’s happened to me more than once, and I’m sure we can all agree, even getting something as simple as a common cold can make enjoying a trip a little more difficult.
For this reason, I take extra precautions, and I’m always finding new ways to keep healthy on my travels. That being said, sometimes we can take all the care in the world and still get sick. Hopefully though, some of my tips will increase your chances of keeping germs at bay, help your body fight off anything lingering, and let you enjoy your travels feeling a little bit more prepared!
Boost Your Immune System
This tip begins before you leave on your trip. I always start increasing my Vitamin C intake in the fortnight before I leave, and take a bottle of Vitamin C tablets with me to continue taking daily. Studies have shown that people dealing with stressful situations that take 1,000mg of vitamin C per day, are less likely to get ill, and so far, I haven’t had any issues with colds etc, when upping my Vitamin C intake.
Oregano Oil tablets is another investment I have made in the past year, after a friend swore by them for keeping away colds. Its a natural supplement you can find at health food stores, that keeps all kinds of nasty infections at bay due to its antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also been said that Oregano oil can help prevent food-bourne illnesses and other digestive issues, so it really is a valuable supply to have for travelling. The capsules are very strong, and will leave a super intense pizza-like after taste so it’s best to swallow them with lots of water.
Probiotic yogurts are another thing I take a week before travel, and if I’m feeling a bit under the weather while I’m away. Most countries will sell some form in supermarkets – Yakult is a favourite of mine to get here in the UK. Probiotics enhance healthy gut bacteria, so they’re an excellent boost to have before going away in general, or if you’re heading to a place where your digestive health may be compromised.
Eating healthy is one of the obvious ways to maintain a good immune system. Having a varied diet that includes plenty fruit and veg is very important (something I need to get better at!), and your body will thank you for it.
This is a must have – I don’t go anywhere without a bottle of hand sanitiser these days! A little skoosh before touching food can go a long way in protecting you against bacteria, or after you’ve touched certain things – think arm rests, magazines and tray tables on planes! I would also use it as an extra precaution when out and about in countries, especially if you’re handling animals, or coming into contact with places that see lots of people. Before I start sounding like a total germophobe, one thing I don’t use (but probably wouldn’t go a miss if you want to be extra careful) is antibacterial wipes for surfaces etc, before you touch them.
If you can hover/squat – great, but for people like me with dodgy knees, a little toilet paper covering the rim (mum tip) can help keep a barrier between you and any nasties that may be lurking there. It has recently been disputed that by covering the toilet seat with toilet paper before you sit down can actually expose you to more germs than just sitting on the porcelain itself. This is because bacteria flies everywhere when the toilet is flushed, and can stick to the nearby roll and walls, whereas toilet seat material is designed to be difficult for germs to stick to. To be honest though, if I’m wiping my backside with that same loo roll anyway – it’s not going to be any more damaging to sit on it initially, and it means the seat isn’t as cold too.
When it comes to flying, I actually avoid the toilets altogether on short flights as these can be the worst places for germs and bacteria. The other reason I dislike using airplane toilets stems from a childhood hatred of the volume of the flush, but that’s beside this point. I have even (and I’m not proud of this) avoided going to the bathroom on a 14 hour flight on three different occasions, and do this routinely on five to eight hour flights. I do have the bladder of a camel though, and this probably means I wasn’t staying hydrated enough as my mother would say.
Tap water varies across the globe so check in advance if it’s drinkable or not. It’s also worth remembering that even if the locals drink the tap water, their bodies will be accustomed to the bacteria in it, and your body may not be. When in doubt, drink the bottled stuff or use purifying tablets. My top tip here when out, is to ask for drinks without ice where possible. The majority of ice cubes are made with tap water in bars and restaurants, and this is an easy way to consume potentially harmful water without realising. Otherwise, stay hydrated when travelling!
Bring good bug spray. Even if you’re going somewhere where insects don’t carry diseases, mosquito and other bug bites can still get infected and cause problems. Protect yourself, and bring an appropriate level spray for where you’re going. I’ve used many different kinds over the years being someone who is always badly affected by insect bites, and found RID® to be the best brand I have come across. It’s from Australia, and seems to be the only brand that also protects me against the Scottish midges! It also offers “after bite protection as well as a high-quality repellent,” but using an after bite cream such as Anthisan Cream can also work wonders in reducing pain, itchiness and inflammation in the event of a bite.
I should really take my own advice on this one. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep on the lead up to your journey and allow your body time to overcome the jet lag before doing anything too strenuous when flying long haul. Seven to eight hours sleep a night is ideal for most of us, but if that’s not doable, do try to get as close to it as possible, at least in the run up to your trip. Your body will thank you for this also!
If you have any other tips you’d like to share on how to stay healthy while travelling, we’d love to hear them! Let us know in the comments below, or ping us a message at: firstname.lastname@example.org