Sticking to a healthy lifestyle on your next trip is the best way to stay healthy no matter where you go, but these four tips can also help.

CreditLars Leetaru

By Shivani Vora

  • June 7, 2018

Traveling can take a toll on your health, said Dr. Douglas Kaiden, medical director of Priority Private Care, an emergency care facility in New York City. “Flying and being in new destinations makes you vulnerable to all sorts of illness and injuries,” he said. “It’s extra important to be vigilant about your health when you’re on the road.” Before your next trip, consider his tips to stay healthy while you travel.

Be Prepared

Going into a trip with a supply of any basic medications you take often, especially prescription medications, is a good idea, Dr. Kaiden said. Depending on where you travel, access to even the over-the-counter medications you often take may be variable, and local laws and regulations complicate things even further. In addition to any medicines you take on a regular basis, he recommend packing pain killers, anti-diarrhea medication, and, if necessary depending on your destination and medical history, antibiotics. It’s also a good idea to check if you need any vaccinations for your destination; check for more information. Talk to your doctor before you go to make sure you have your bases covered.

Small Steps for Your Next Flight

On your flight, try to get up and stretch and take a stroll down the aisle at least every two hours. Sitting for long periods increases the risk for deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot that forms in the legs from stagnant circulation. Simple calf or leg stretches you can do while seated can help as well.

Dr. Kaiden also recommended compression socks to help boost circulation and avoid swollen feet or calves. You can find them at pharmacies or easily available online. Wirecutter, a New York Times Company, has recommendations for the best compression socks in women’s and men’s sizes.

Also, drink plenty of water, and avoid alcohol. Alcohol can act as a diuretic, while water will keep you hydrated and keep motion sickness, headaches and lightheadedness at bay.

Avoid Gut Woes

You should always wash fruits and vegetables before eating, even if you buy them at home, but eating washed fruits and vegetables doesn’t necessarily mean they are clean, depending on who did the washing. Even if you did it yourself, you may be taking a risk. Traveler’s Diarrhea is unfortunately common for travelers who take unnecessary risks when it comes to street food, local produce, or other foods that may not have been properly prepared or handled.

Dr. Kaiden suggests it’s better to stick to cooked vegetables and peeled fruits served from restaurants, stands or cafes you can trust. That’s not to say you should avoid street food or local produce entirely, just make sure whatever you eat is properly washed and prepared. Watch how the cooks at that night market stall handle their ingredients for a bit and then decide to buy. Similarly, see how popular a produce stand is before buying — if they turn over a lot of fruit, odds are likely you’re not getting food that’s been sitting out under the hot sun for hours at a time.

Constipation is equally common during travel. Combat it by drinking plenty of water through your trip and eating a high fiber diet. Taking a fiber supplement or drinking a glass of prune juice can also help.

Keep Your Doctor On Speed Dial

Finally, it’s important to be able to reach your doctor back at home in case of an emergency. He or she may be able to help you remotely.

For example, Dr. Kaiden recently helped one of his patients who was on vacation in Mexico. The patient awoke with a strange rash on his arm and was convinced that he had contracted a parasite. He sent Dr. Kaiden a picture of the rash, and after talking with the patient, Dr. Kaiden figured out that he had phytophotodermatitis, a relatively harmless rash that’s easily treated. “My patient relaxed and enjoyed the rest of his trip,” Dr. Kaiden said.


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