Travel Tactics: First Defense

Stay healthy on vacation by following these tips.

By Hannah Wallace | Illustration by Dave Urban

Travel can be hard on the body. You may put in extra hours at work before leaving or stay up late packing the night before. By the time you’re on the plane, your immune system has often already taken a hit. We interviewed Frank Lipman, MD, founder and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center, in New York City, and author of The New Health Rules: Simple Changes to Achieve Whole-Body Wellness and Revive: Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again for his advice on staying healthy and energetic while on the road.

Do you get sick while traveling? Stay healthy on vacation with these tips.

Pack healthy snacks

A balanced diet is key to maintaining good health—especially when traveling, since it can put extra stress on your body. “Because there’s hardly anything decent to eat at airports, bring a backup just in case,” Lipman says. He likes to pack protein packets, which you can mix with water (or coconut water); healthy bars (with five grams of sugar or less); and little packets of almond butter, which is rich in fiber, iron, magnesium and antioxidants. Protein boosts your energy levels, while fiber can help with travel-related digestive problems.

Stay hydrated

One of the most important preventive measures you can take is to drink plenty of water. It is essential for every system in your body; water not only helps flush bacteria from your bladder but also wards off constipation, a common traveler complaint. Lipman notes that fluids are particularly important on the plane, as cabin air is usually very dry.

Consider taking a probiotic

If you do tend to get constipated on travel days, Lipman suggests taking magnesium* the night before. He and his wife both rely on probiotics as well when they travel. “Don’t expect to get the amount of probiotics you need from eating yogurt,” Lipman says. Instead, he recommends going with a probiotic pill that contains Saccharomyces boulardii, which has been shown to help prevent acute GI conditions such as traveler’s diarrhea.

Nap on the plane

Dr. Lipman never travels without earplugs and a sleeping mask, two important items if you want to catch any sleep en route. The stylish Red Eye Pak ($20), from Flight 001, includes an eye mask, foam earplugs and a small dental kit. But if the hum of the aircraft really gets to you—indeed, noise pollution can have a negative impact on emotional and physical health—you might consider investing in noise-canceling headphones to block it out more thoroughly.

Exercise regularly

Sometimes a getaway is all about lolling by the pool (or lake or ocean). But don’t forget to get in a few laps. The connection between exercise and both physical and mental health is well established. “That doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym,” Lipman says. “Just walk. In fact, walking in the great outdoors may have more benefits than indoor exercising.” Recent research by the University of Innsbruck, in Austria, suggests that people tend to enjoy nature hikes more than working out in a gym—and the more you like your workout, the greater your chances of exercising regularly.

  • *Consult your physician before taking any medication or supplements. Use all medication or supplements as directed.
  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: Winter 2017