Healthy Tips to Survive Holiday Travel

By Haley Bass | 12/06/2016

Traveling for the holidays can be hectic, especially when airports and planes are involved. After wrangling the family, waiting through long security lines, and sitting in a tight space for hours, your health may be the last thing on your mind. But making healthy choices is essential when you’re surrounded by unhealthy airport food and germy strangers. 

Follow these healthy tips to survive the airport so you can enjoy your holiday celebrations.

Pack Healthy Snacks

Scrambling to eat on a travel day, especially with an early flight, typically ends with a quick fix at the airport. But airports aren’t known for their fresh produce. It’s easier to grab a cinnamon pretzel and sugar-laden coffee, which will leave you bloated and unsatisfied on your flight.

Include healthy snacks when you’re packing. Pack protein- and fiber-rich goodies that will keep you full, like raw nuts, seedless grapes, and turkey sandwiches. If you pack these goodies the night before your flight, it’ll be easier to avoid the temptation of a rushed, greasy meal.

Wear Socks

Prioritizing safety at the airport is great. But when you take your shoes off at security, your feet are exposed to a dirty floor that’s been tread on by countless bare feet. And if your feet are sweaty, you’re risking a bacterial or fungal infection.

The best way to reduce this risk is by wearing socks. Even if you just put them on for the security check, it’s worth it to not expose your bare skin to all those germs.

Bring a Reusable Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your health. Fill a reusable water bottle before you get to the airport, and drink it while you wait in the security line. Refill it at the gate, and ask flight attendants to fill it when you’re in the air.

You might be tempted to ask for soda or alcohol on the flight, but these drinks can cause dehydration and headaches at high altitudes. Stick with water as your best bet.

Just Keep Moving

You’re about to sit for several hours on a plane, so try to avoid sitting in the airport. Walk around the airport, or do some calf raises at your gate.

When on the plane, try to stand and move every hour. If you’re drinking a lot of water, you’ll have to get up and go to the bathroom regularly. By moving your legs, you can prevent blood clots from developing in your legs. While sitting, keep circulation going in your feet by lifting your heels up and down while your feet are flat.

Defend Your Body from Germs

The Journal of Environmental Health found that you may be up to 100 times more likely to catch a cold on a plane than in your normal daily life on the ground. The holiday season coincides with cold and flu season, which doesn’t help your chances.

To protect yourself, avoid touching things as much as possible. Use a paper towel to open the bathroom door, try not to grab onto seats to steady yourself when walking down the aisle, and don’t rest your hands on the seat tray.

You can’t completely avoid touching things in the airport and plane, so wash your hands and use hand sanitizer as often as possible. Stay conscious of your hands and don’t touch your mouth or eyes.

If you know your travel plans, follow some preventive measures so your body can defend itself against infection. Plane air dries out your mucus membranes, reducing your resistance to infection. Use saline nasal spray before and after your flight to keep these membranes moist. Take vitamin C supplements to boost your immune system, and keep hydrated by drinking water.

Also, make sure to get your flu shot! This is the absolute best line of protection against the flu, and is your best bet when surrounded by flu germs at the airport and on the plane. If you haven’t already, visit your local Concentra center or learn more about the benefits of the flu shot. Check out one of our airport locations for convenient, attentive care.