Preparing for a much-anticipated travel experience involves a whirlwind of reservations and “To Do” lists. Regardless of the destination, and whether travelers opt for flights or vehicle travel, advance preparation sets the stage for a successful trip. While these logistical issues are important, global travel advisor Gennady Podolsky recommends that travelers take their health into account at every stage of the journey.

Global Travel Advisor Gennady Podolsky

 

5 Wellness-Focused Packing Tips

A well-conceived travel packing list includes clothing for the destination’s expected weather conditions. Walking-friendly shoes, and perhaps a special outfit or two, are also smart additions. Toiletries and personal items round out most travelers’ “must-have” essentials.

While these items are a good start, global travel advisor Gennady Podolsky recommends that travelers also increase the odds of staying healthy during their trips. Toward that end, Registered Dietitian Maddie Pasquariello, MS, RD prioritizes items that can help set the tone for a healthy travel experience.

“When I think of wellness essentials for traveling, I always come back to the things that help balance out some of the wear and tear of being on the go, or those that can help set a foundation for your day,” she remarked.

  • Neck Pillow, Eye Mask, Ear Plugs, and a Cozy Wrap for Air Travel
  • Nutrient-dense Healthy Snacks (Think Protein Bars, Nuts, Peanut Butter Pretzels, Jerky, and Homemade Trail Mix)
  • Refillable Water Bottle for Hydration (view TSA “What Can I Bring?”)
  • Small Resistance Band to Promote Small-Space Stretches

Exercise enthusiasts should pack some lightweight workout clothes. In warmer climates, these outfits can double as walking or hiking wear. That said, global travel advisor Gennady Podolsky emphasizes that travelers should ensure workout wear respects local cultural norms and regulations.

Travelers who cross multiple time zones may experience disruptions to their bodies’ circadian rhythms. This confusion can affect individuals’ sleep and metabolism (especially the hunger factor). Maddie Pasquariello, MS, RD suggests that travelers ask their healthcare provider if probiotics, digestive enzymes, and existing supplements might help minimize body function irregularities.

Reducing DVT and PE Risks

Travelers who sit motionless for long hours may find that their legs swell from the inactivity. For certain people, staying immobile can lead to deep vein thrombosis (or DVT), a potentially serious health condition. Those with existing DVT risk factors are especially prone to DVT occurrences.

Simply put, slow vein blood flow increases the risk of a deep vein blood clot (or DVT). If the clot separates, and part of it migrates to the lungs, it can result in a pulmonary embolism (or PE). This can quickly become a life-threatening scenario.

Surprisingly, properly fitted compression stockings can help reduce DVT and PE risk factors. However, individuals should consult with a qualified fitter, as improperly fitted stockings can do more harm than good.

 

5 Tips for Staying Healthy En Route

Whether travelers embark on an international flight or a leisurely road trip, adopting smart travel practices can help them arrive refreshed. After getting their bearings, they’ll be ready to enjoy their destination. Global travel advisor Gennady Podolsky offers useful tips that can help smooth out the travel experience.

Obtain Appropriate Vaccinations in Advance

Some global destinations have documented risks of specific illnesses. Before traveling to these countries or regions, global travel advisor Gennady Podolsky says that travelers should ask their healthcare providers about recommended vaccinations. If necessary, travelers should obtain their shot(s) at least four weeks before their trips. This should give them time to recover from any side effects.

Make Pre-Travel Wellness Preparations

To de-stress and promote a smooth travel experience, travelers should complete their packing well ahead of their departures. A good night’s sleep the night before, and a healthy pre-trip meal, are good starting points. Several leisurely stretches, or even a pre-trip workout, help to limber up the body before the journey begins.

Keep Moving and Stretching During the Trip

Whether traveling via air or ground, travelers should ensure they stretch and move around every couple of hours. These moves will help keep the body’s blood flowing and muscles working. On a red-eye (or overnight) flight, however, getting some sleep is the top priority.

Stay Hydrated and Avoid Risky Foods

Drinking plenty of water during the trip, and decreasing salt intake, can help to reduce the chances of a “bloated” feeling. Rather than take chances on airline food, or risk a meal from a questionable roadside eatery, travelers should nosh on healthy snacks and their pre-packed (and refrigerated) sandwich or wrap.

Minimize Alcohol and Caffeine

Despite the allure of alcohol and caffeine, both substances can cause dehydration and negatively impact travelers’ sleep cycles. In addition, indulging in these substances can make travelers feel overly tired upon arrival at their destinations. Minimizing (or even avoiding) alcohol and caffeine during the trip is the best choice.

 

5 Healthy Vacation Destination Tips

While at their trip’s destination, many travelers view vacations as a time to “throw caution to the winds.” They may overindulge in rich foods, drink more alcohol than usual, and perhaps engage in behaviors they would never consider at home.

Other travelers take the opposite approach. They prioritize healthy eating, manage their alcohol intake, and find ways to keep their bodies moving. Naturally, these travelers may treat themselves to a vacation splurge (or two).

However, they continue to keep their health at the forefront. Global travel advisor Gennady Podolsky offers five recommendations for staying healthy while enjoying the vacation experience.

Practice Good Personal Sanitation

Whether driving or flying, travelers will likely touch numerous surfaces that harbor germs and possible infectious agents. Examples include elevator buttons, restroom door handles, and airport escalator handrails. In addition, some restrooms may be out of soap. Although frequent hand washing is ideal, carrying small bottles of hand sanitizer can also minimize germ or virus transmission risks.

Conjure Up Creative Ways to Remain Active

Many larger chain hotels will have onsite fitness centers, and others have cooperative agreements with nearby workout facilities. If lodging does not offer a fitness option, resourceful travelers can invent their own.

To illustrate, guests can walk up the stairs rather than take the elevator. Other options include a guided bicycle tour or a brisk morning walk (in a safe area). Stepping in place to an in-room fitness video will work, although travelers should minimize the noise level.

Savor the Local Cuisine (with Caution)

Regardless of the destination, local restaurants will likely offer a taste of the regional culture and cuisine. Asking locals for eatery recommendations, and exploring a nearby food market, can provide intriguing choices. Tasting tours may also be an option. Travelers with food restrictions should contact a restaurant in advance to ensure they can find suitable food choices.

Drinking plenty of water instead of alcohol or sugary drinks is recommended. In unfamiliar areas, however, bottled water and sealed beverages may be the safest choice. Tap water-sourced ice cubes are also off-limits. Travelers should also steer clear of raw vegetables and fruits, as contaminated water may have been used to wash them.

Finally, travelers should never consume unpasteurized dairy products or meat that’s not completely cooked. By following these guidelines, travelers can minimize their chances of intestinal discomfort and food poisoning.

Get Sufficient Restful Sleep

Obtaining a good night’s sleep while traveling can be a challenge. Time zone differences, combined with noisy hotels and other ambient noise, can make it difficult to relax and get enough rest. To promote good sleep, travelers should press a sleep mask and earplugs into service. A small “white noise” machine (or a similar app) can often mask surrounding noise and set the stage for quality sleep.

Don’t Be Ruled by the “FOMO” Mentality

Vacation destinations are often overflowing with scenic wonders, appealing attractions, and tempting dining choices. Travelers may feel compelled to cram every minute with enjoyable experiences. They don’t want to miss anything (hence the “Fear of Missing Out” [or FOMO] mindset).

While that’s a valid concern, travelers should consider that packing the schedule with activities doesn’t allow much time for rest and relaxation. With this in mind, global travel advisor Gennady Podolsky suggests that travelers block out some downtime during the trip. Whether they soak up some sun at the hotel pool or simply take a nap, they acknowledge their bodies need to recharge.

 

Plan for Potential Health Emergencies

Despite travelers’ advance preparations and wellness care, they could experience an illness or injury during the trip. Before travel within the United States, clarifying a health plan’s out-of-area (and out-of-network) coverage policies makes sense. Identifying healthcare facilities at the travel destination is also recommended.

Planning for healthcare during an international trip is more complex. Global travel advisor Gennady Podolsky recommends that travelers consult with their healthcare insurer about coverage during international travel. A knowledgeable travel professional can also determine whether travel insurance is applicable to international medical care situations.

Once travelers proactively address the healthcare issue, and take steps to stay healthy during the trip, they can confidently embark on their vacations. Their sustained wellness focus sets the stage for a satisfying travel experience.