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Whether traveling for vacation or for work, the odd sleep schedule, stress, change of diet, and physical demands of travel can place a lot of strain on your health. Spending hours in the cramped, communal spaces found in the cabins of airplanes, trains, or buses place you in close proximity to a variety of viruses that are easily spreadable by hand-to-hand contact, such as cold, flu, and noroviruses. Even traveling across country in the car or RV with family places you at risk of catching any bug your kids or significant other has inadvertently packed along for the trip.

Fortunately, you can stay one step ahead of any potential illness you may catch while traveling by following these helpful tips.

Strengthen Your Immune System in Advance

Since traveling offers the chance of exposing yourself to a variety of germs and viruses, you need to boost your immune system before you leave to prevent getting sick while on the road. Studies have shown that zinc, selenium, and beta-carotene all help the body maintain cell membrane integrity and can protect the body against parasitic, viral, and bacterial infection.

You can find rich sources of beta-carotene in such foods as winter squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots, while shrimp, cod, and tuna make excellent sources of selenium. While zinc is a little more difficult to easily work into a diet, you can receive enough of the mineral from foods like roasted pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, peanuts, and crab. For the best results, start loading up on these types of foods at least two weeks before you leave on your trip.

Bring Your Supplements

One of the best parts about taking a vacation or working away from home is eating out at new and exciting places. However, depending on how new and exciting those places may be, you might be exposing yourself to unfriendly bacteria that could cause you to experience some unpleasant stomach sensations.

Taking probiotics at least three days prior to leaving on your travels will help to provide your stomach with plenty of friendly intestinal bacteria that can assist the body in warding off any unwelcome intruders. Taking probiotics throughout your trip will also help to ensure that the ratio of healthy to unhealthy stomach bacteria always remains tilted in your direction for the duration of your time away from home.

Other handy supplements you should consider packing include melatonin, which can help the body overcome jetlag, and elderberry to help keep your immune system strong.

Keep the Same Sleep Schedule

While exposing yourself to new germs and foods offer some risk while traveling, the most common cause of travel related illness is a change of sleep schedule. Finding yourself sleeping more or less at different times of day and night throws off your circadian rhythm and the hormones the body produces that help to control your metabolism and immune system.

If you find yourself traveling at hours you would otherwise be sleeping, try packing a neck pillow, sleep mask, ear plugs, or some soothing music to help you catch some sleep and keep your sleep schedule from becoming completely derailed. You should also make a point of going to sleep at the same time every night while on the road as well.

Don’t Over Stimulate

Even though caffeine might seem like your best friend while on the road, you need to make a point of not loading up on caffeine to keep yourself awake at the airport, waiting for a train, or especially while on the road.

Excessive caffeine consumption makes it more difficult for your body to adjust to travel, which can negatively impact your energy levels, sleep schedule, and immune system. If you find yourself in need of a boost, try drinking green tea, which contains significantly less caffeine but contains natural ingredients that help to boost energy and increase alertness.

Timothy Lemke is a freelance writer and travel fan of the RV parks Salem, Oregon has to offer.


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