The Healthy Traveler
Travel today can be an arduous affair—crowded airports, long flights in cramped airline seats, and altitude and temperature changes. It's enough to exhaust anyone. But being prepared for your trip, and taking good care of yourself while traveling, can make all the difference.
Selecting Your Trip
Choose the right trip for you and your activity level. Check the length, duration, and exertion level of the trip. How long are the flights and total travel time? Does the program stay in one place or move every day? Given the itinerary, are you comfortable with the walking distances, stairs, crowded spaces or getting in and out of small boats?
Check with your doctor about immunizations and health concerns, as they can let you know any issues for you and your specific health situation.
You may also want to discuss vitamins or supplements with your doctor. To help boost immune system health, many travelers swear by products like Airborne, starting the regimen about a week before departure.
Do you have any difficulties walking or climbing stairs? Or any special concerns like food allergies, or health conditions that may require a C-PAP machine? Tour providers can typically help ensure that you have a wonderful time, even with certain limitations, but they need time to prepare for special requests. Complete your Guest Information Form promptly and accurately, and if you have concerns, call your tour provider to speak with someone directly.
Prepare for your trip with a walking exercise program, like this one from the American Heart Association, and you'll be ready for those wonderful city walking tours.
Make sure you pack appropriately, including walking shoes, a walking stick (if needed), hat(s), sunscreen, and hand sanitizer. Your pre-departure informational materials will typically suggest a packing list specific to your destination. If the weather is a feature of the program, your tour provider will give specifics for other needed clothing and accessories.
Traveling to Your Destination
Make sure to contact your airline well in advance to set up any special assistance needed while at the airport. Seating assignments can be very tricky, especially these days, but calling the airline can sometimes help if you need a special seat.
Dress properly for your flight. Wear loose-fitting clothing, slip-on shoes, and bring a sweater in case you get chilled during the flight. Consider over-the-calf compression stockings—they are a huge help on long flights or bus rides.
To stay hydrated, drink plenty of water during your flight, as well as when you reach your destination. Buy a reusable water bottle you can fill on your own (after clearing airport security) and use it throughout the trip.
If you have a flight over two hours, it's beneficial to get up and walk around the cabin to increase your circulation.
When You Arrive
If traveling internationally, there are many ways to deal with jet lag. The most popular advice is to try to switch to the new time zone as soon as you arrive—in other words, if it's daytime when you arrive, resist taking a nap and try to make it through to the evening before going to bed. It can be a tough day, but it'll be worth it.
Traveling means trying new, and sometimes exotic, foods, indulging in larger portions, and dining at different meal times than what you're used to. Restaurants can often provide half portions, and accommodate special dietary needs when requested ahead. Buffet meals can provide great options for lighter, more familiar fare.
Try to go for a walk every day, whether it is around the deck of a ship, at the hotel gym, or even in the nearest neighborhood. Even a brisk 15-20 minute walk will help stretch your muscles, relax your back, aid with digestion, and clear your mind.
Know when to say when. If you have hit your energy limit and need some time to rest, simply let your tour director or expedition leader know, and (if possible) spend some time back in your stateroom or at the hotel. You can rest up, enjoy the amenities, and be ready to join your travel companions again the next day.
Have a safe and healthy trip!