Healthy Travel Guide

It’s that time of year again when everyone is making their travel plans. Whether you’re going on a summer vacation or a business trip, it’s important to stay healthy while you’re away from home. In this article, we will discuss some science-based tips for staying healthy while traveling. your trip. 

Before we jump in, let’s talk about why traveling can be stressful to the immune system and increase the risk of catching something like a cold or flu. When you travel, you’re exposed to new environments and a lot of different pathogens. Additionally, traveling can be exhausting, especially when dealing with long flights, bright lights, and jet lag. All of these factors can create the perfect storm for a weakened immune system.

So, how can we best prepare to enjoy our time away and return home even healthier?

10 Tips to Stay Healthy While Traveling

1. Strengthen Your Immune System Ahead of Time to Stay Healthy While Traveling

You do not have to wait to get 30,000 ft high in the sky to begin immune-strengthening practices. Knowing your travel schedule well in advance allows you to hack your immune system to perform at its best when subjected to travel stress. Here are three immune-strengthening strategies to give you a headstart before your departure.

Intermittent Fasting (IF)

Early civilizations believed that IF has the power to increase life span. Current research supports this belief, as IF is correlated with a number of health benefits, including a strengthened immune system and inducing a state of autophagy that triggers interleukin-6 and other downstream biochemical components of an immune response. Restricting calorie intake in the weeks leading up to travel day, not to mention during your flight, yields a number of benefits.

Alkaline Gem Water

Infusing water with healing gems enlivens it and restores its mineral properties. Drinking water exposed to crystals enhances its alkalinity and helps to remove certain toxins. Cleaner water supports the immune system and ensures no further toxic load will burden your internal organs.

Immune Boosting Supplements

In the wake of the pandemic, the consumption of immune-boosting supplements has skyrocketed, particularly for travelers. But what are the best immune-boosting supplement, you may be wondering? Fortunately, we at Innovative Medicine have published a list of well-researched supplements known to have a notable effect on building your immunity from the inside. These include Mushrooms, Collagen, Probiotics, Elderberry, and Influvin-T, to name a few.

Travel-Friendly Clothing

If you have a long flight coming up, youre going to want to dress comfortably. Small, cramped spaces and lack of regular movement often lead to problems with circulation and blood flow. But what if your clothes could actually help hack these issues? Compression socks and pants have long been used by athletes and biohackers to increase circulation in the legs and feet and prevent deep vein thrombosis and swelling. In addition, new companies are producing EMF-protecting clothing and headphones to wear on flights.

2.  Time Your Light Exposure 

Timing exposure to light is the best way to resynchronize your circadian rhythms, according to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine by Dr. Robert Sack. This means allowing the body to be exposed to the correct light that aligns with your destination. Light is an essential component of jet lag, and ensuring the body receives certain light frequencies are what greatly controls hormonal balance during times of environmental change such as traveling long distances.

How do we implement this? While still on the flight, begin utilizing light therapy. If the flight takes place while it is nighttime at your destination, utilize amber glasses, especially if the airplane does not turn off the lights. Artificial lighting and electronics emit light of a blue wavelength, which tricks our brains into thinking that it is daytime. Amber lights or glasses effectively block all blue light, so your brain doesn’t get the signal that it is supposed to stay awake. Conversely, if it is daytime at your destination while flying yet the flight is taking place overnight, try a light-therapy app while working on your computer, such as f.lux. This free software allows you to make your computer screen change shades according to the time, meaning allowing more blue light to illuminate your screen during daytime hours. This also allows you to practice some form of light therapy without disrupting your flying neighbor. Finally, when landing, avoid the temptation to stay in your hotel, and make sure to go out and receive daylight to really optimize the resynchronization process and combat jet lag.

3. Stay Hydrated

Approximately 70% of your body is composed of water. So its only logical that adequate water consumption forms the basis of health. Yet, proper hydration is often neglected by busy travelers. And unlike the United States, clean water is not always accessible, especially in the majority of developing countries. Drinking the local tap water poses serious health risks if it is contaminated with bacterial toxins or heavy metals. It is also recommended to avoid ice in cold beverages as it is likely from the local tap. Despite the environmental implications, bottled water is often your best bet to ensure proper hydration.

I avoid food and caffeine during long flights (but drink lots of water), until eating a large fast-breaking meal (along with a cup or two of coffee) the morning after I arrive (or just upon arrival, if I arrive in the morning).

– Max Lugavere, Health and Science Journalist

4. Don’t Forget Your Vitamins

Vitamin C is generally the staple of immune-boosting supplements, with Vitamin D a close second, as we now know the important role it plays in regulating immune function. Shockingly, 57% of adults in the US are deficient in Vitamin D. Given this figure, carrying your vitamins with you during travel is essential. In addition to vital nutrients, adaptogens are invaluable immune-boosting agents that occur naturally in herbal medicine. A few that we frequently recommend at Innovative Medicine are Ashwagandha, Holy Basil (Tulsi), Astragalus, and Ginseng.

5. Sleep, Sleep, and More Sleep 

Traveling is harsh on the body. It wears us down and causes fatigue, especially when flying through time zones. A few hacks to avoid jet lag and preserve your circadian rhythm are sleep masks, blue light blocking glasses, and avoiding sleeping pills and caffeine. Nadovim, Innovative Medicine’s NAD+ supplement, has been found to help with resetting a disrupted circadian rhythm.

6. Quiet Time

Your body needs rest and relaxation to recharge, both physically and energetically. To avoid burn-out and over-stimulation as a busy tourist, make sure to pace yourself. Meditate, engage in breathing exercises, and give your mind time to unwind, decompress, and basically do nothing.

Grounding or earthing is another helpful way to recharge after a flight. The simple act of walking on the ground barefoot does just that — grounds you back to earth and resets your circadian rhythm while absorbing the negative ions (antioxidants) that naturally occur on the earth’s surface.

7. Choose Local Foods (Wisely)

Healthy Eating Travel Tips to Avoid Traveler’s Diarrhea

Much like water, precaution needs to be exercised when consuming foods when traveling, particularly in India, Southeast Asia, and many tropical countries. To avoid gastrointestinal disorders, it is best to stay away from unpasteurized dairy products, raw seafood, unwashed fruits, and vegetables, or those washed with local water. Eating food that is thoroughly cooked is the safest way to prevent GI issues abroad.

A diet based on whole, natural, local produce supports the proper functioning of the body’s defense systems and helps your gut and other internal organs adjust faster to the local time zone and climate. Nuts, fruits, and vegetables rich in polyphenols, antioxidants, and phytonutrients support health and wellbeing. Eat the rainbow to ensure that your body gets the full range of bioactive compounds present in foods of different colors.

If you’re a bit adventurous or do happen to eat something risky, our medical team advises taking a homeopathic medicine called Pleo-Oku. It is a natural remedy derived from Okoubaka aubrevillei and is often used to relieve symptoms of the digestive tract and food poisoning (as well as side effects of chemotherapy).

8. Be Open to New Experiences

Unconsciously, humans gravitate toward that which is predictable because our conditioned mind perceives it to be safe. If new experiences are labeled as “unsafe” and treated as a threat, your sympathetic pathway triggers the release of stress hormones and travel will be associated with stress and overwhelm. Approaching new experiences with an open mind significantly contributes to reduced stress. Joe Dispenza suggests that a component of novelty helps with reprogramming the mind and breaking the habit of being yourself.

9. Detoxification

We have discussed that pathogens are likely to accumulate during a flight. Depending on the region or country visited, you are at an increased risk of exposure to local pathogens. A regular detoxification routine is essential for the upkeep of proper health during travel. Quick-fix liver detoxes with milk thistle are what many people use to detox. But simply adding an activated charcoal supplement during or shortly after a flight is a great way to rid your body of toxins from the airplane, and potentially ward off a number of diet-related GI issues when taken with any suspicious foods.

An additional way to detox after a flight is to sweat. Whether it be yoga, jogging, cycling, or resistance training, exercise helps to resync your circadian rhythm, ward off muscle fatigue, and improve blood flow to reduce post-flight inflammation. That said, conserving your electrolytes after a long flight is crucial for ensuring rapid jet lag recovery. To this effect, mild exercise (total body stretch or yoga) is far more beneficial than intense workouts.

At Innovative Medicine, we believe in the barrel analogy of toxicity whereby, once toxins fill up within the body, they spill over from organs to interstitial cavities. Unresolved toxic burdens form the foundation of all illness and disease. Establishing a holistic detoxification routine (oil pulling, magnetic clay baths, using activated charcoal or antioxidants like N-Acetyl Cysteine) soon after landing is a good way to counter toxic buildup.

Travel Guide 2022

10. Relax & Enjoy 

One of the main benefits of traveling is that it takes us out of our day-to-day routine and into a new element. Relaxing and enjoying the trip will not only lead to a better experience but will also have a positive impact on the immune system and your ability to defend against pathogens.  

Mounting evidence supports the notion that stress negatively impacts the immune system. But you needn’t succumb to it. All you need to do is keep your attention focused on the positive aspects of travel, like all the new places you will see and new experiences you have. The brain loves novelty. It stimulates curiosity and helps us transform perceived threats into challenges, so we don’t just travel light, but actually feel lighter and more joyful.

Safe and Healthy Travels

Travel can be medicine. Used together, these 10 steps work synergistically to form a holistic approach to staying healthy while traveling.  As long as you take the proper precautions, there is no reason why you cannot safely enjoy all that this world has to offer. 

Disclaimer: The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products or treatments mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult a licensed medical practitioner for medical advice.

At Innovative Medicine, we believe in transparency. We want you to know that we may participate in affiliate advertising programs pertaining to products mentioned herein.

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Meet the Author

IM Health Team

Our Innovative Medicine Health Team is a committed and impassioned group of individuals with focused efforts on exploring and shedding light on this comprehensive realm of healing - sharing insight on some of the most advanced, integrative, but most importantly, innovative topics in medicine - empowering you to be the healthiest version of you. Want to learn more? Here's our story.
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