With the winter holidays rapidly approaching, many people have probably already began making travel plans.
Two years ago, the number of holiday travelers eclipsed 100 million for the first time. So chances are you or someone you know will likely be on the road this holiday season. Admittedly, sometimes the prospect of seeing friends and loved ones during this time is exciting. While other times, you may just be hoping to get it over with as quickly as possible.
In addition to your mental health, your physical health may be an issue as well, especially for those traveling with children. In short, a road trip can disrupt the healthiest habits. So, what are some ways to avoid illness and injury during road trips this November and December?
1. Feel Good About Yourself.
A healthy lifestyle really begins with the inside. If you feel good about yourself, you try to make better choices. Knowing the physical things you need to do to stay healthy, and finding the necessary motivation comes from within.
When you are out of your comfort zone away from home, it is easy to let these changes affect your psyche. Moreover, when you travel, you may often associate with people who drink, smoke, or have other unhealthy habits.
While you don’t want to insult these people by questioning their lifestyle or refusing to join them in certain activities, you do not want to take their lifestyles home with you either.
2. Get Plenty of Rest.
On road trips, you may be tempted to push yourself and drive an extra few minutes to reach your destinations on time. But driving after eighteen sleepless hours is like driving with a .08 BAC, which is legally drunk in all states.
Those stay-awake tips, like blasting the radio or air conditioner, do not really work. The only cure for sleepiness is sleep, and even a ten-minute nap can work wonders.
The same thing applies in hotels or guest rooms, so stay in your bedtime routine to the greatest extent possible. That’s especially important for children. Moreover, if you have a favorite pillow or blanket or whatever, be sure and pack it.
3. Be Mindful of Injury.
Always wear your seatbelt, even if you’re in someone else’s car and it takes some effort to buckle up. Likewise, if your trip includes motorcycles or bicycles, wear your helmet.
Injuries can happen around the house or hotel as well, because millions of people a year slip and fall and seriously injure themselves.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but little injuries may still occur.
Moreover, if you are already struggling with intermittent back or leg pain, it will probably not go away while you are gone. Plan for addressing your pain on the road with rest, elevation, and heat and ice therapy.
Bring along a heating pad or ice pack to use in the hotel room or wherever you are staying – see more tips about the best ice packs for pain.
4. Stay Active.
Most hotels offer swimming pools and fitness gyms. If the facility does not have both these things, that should be a deal breaker. Both physical activity (light swimming) and physical exercise (a few minutes on the treadmill) are necessary for total physical fitness.
There is no such thing as fitness by osmosis, so unless you take advantage of these perks, they will do nothing for you.
5. Drink Lots of Water.
Since the human body is mostly water, becoming dehydrated doesn’t take much effort at all. In a state of dehydration, the body starts shutting down little by little. That’s why dehydration causes fatigue. Severely dehydrated people need fluids immediately; otherwise, the organ shutdown may become permanent.
The old eight-serving-a-day rule may not apply to everyone, because fitness and nutrition is not one size fits all.
A better way to asses your hydration is to examine your urine. If it’s darker than normal or bubbly, you’re probably dehydrated.
6. Sun Protection.
The sun’s radiation, as opposed to the sun’s light, is dangerous to your health. While the sunlight is a little dimmer here in North America during the late fall and early winter, there’s still enough radiation to pose a hazard, even if it’s cloudy outside.
Maximum sun protection is almost always the best choice for sunscreens and lip balms. Hats and sunglasses are good ideas as well, whether you’re skiing or simply taking a beautiful fall stroll.
7. Pack Nutritious Snacks.
Traveling during the season of overeating makes nutrition even more important. Many people find themselves snacking purely out of boredom. And there are few things more boring than a long car or plane ride, no matter how young you are.
Instead of sugary snacks, try packing high-protein snacks, like peanut butter, nuts, and cheese sticks. You’ll get an energy burst without the crash and added calories. If these little snacks happened to be glazed with chocolate, that’s not the end of the world.
At home or away from home, your health is in your hands. Be sure you always try to make good choices. Keep the advice above for your next family trip.