By Adrian Sparrow
As the holidays approach, many are excited to see their loved ones again. Travel can be stressful and hard to manage, especially when you’re out of practice. Here are a few reminders to make sure you stay safe and healthy during your holiday vacation.
Changes in routine mean changes in sleep and energy. When traveling, you’ll be in a different environment than usual and might miss familiar bodily cues. Pay close attention to your physical needs: drink plenty of water, eat well, move your body, and rest when you need to—schedule time for rest in between activities. Don’t drive when you’re exhausted; switch drivers or stop to take a break before getting back on the road.
Late holiday parties and alcohol consumption are a familiar mix, leading to fewer hours to rest and less restful sleep. Moderate or forgo alcohol consumption around your usual bedtime. If you do imbibe, designate another driver to keep everyone on the road safe.
Whether traveling by car or plane, there aren’t always healthy options available for meals or snacks. Most convenient foods are loaded with saturated fats, sodium, and sugars, leaving you feeling sluggish and dehydrated.
Try to swap out chips for lightly salted nuts, candy for fresh or dried fruits, and sugary sodas for water. Pack other healthier alternatives as much as you can ahead of time. Be conscious about only eating when you’re hungry, and opt for smaller portion sizes when you do indulge.
Sitting for long periods can increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is when a blood clot forms in a deep vein (usually in the leg). DVT is a serious condition as the clot can loosen and then lodge in the lungs. Although it’s cold outside and curling up by the fire is a much more pleasant way to spend the day, try incorporating exercise into your holiday routine.
Make sure you have a chance to move and massage your legs. Walking increases circulation, and blood doesn’t have as much opportunity to clot. Stop and take a few short walks during long car rides, and when flying, stroll the terminal on long layovers.
If you always wait to pack the night before you travel, do you end up forgetting things? You forgot to pack deodorant, or the gifts for your relatives are still tucked away in your closet back home. Perhaps you flew from warmer weather to snow without a coat. Or worse, your medicine bottles are empty.
Taking daily medication is easy to forget when routines change, so plan ahead. You could set reminders on your phone or use a travel pill organizer. Many health providers and clinics close during the holidays, so it’s important to refill your prescriptions before going out of town. Take care of your prescription, especially if you take any restricted medications you can’t fill in another state.
No matter how well you plan your travel, life is messy and distressing. Whether a snowstorm or a cold keeps you at home, try to remain flexible and positive. Prioritize your mental and emotional health during sudden changes. Think about ways you could see your friends and family at another time before (and after) the New Year. When you can’t meet in person, find other ways to connect, like video calls, writing letters, and playing online games together, and plan ahead for the next visit.