7 ways to stay healthy and sane during holiday travel

This may be the most wonderful time of the year, but traveling for the holidays can bring out the worst in us. Broken routines and unexpected travel delays oftentimes leave children cranky and parents frustrated. Namrata Shidhaye, MD, who practices family medicine at Duke Primary Care Waverly Place in Cary, shares tips for staying healthy and happy while traveling this holiday season.

1. Plan ahead.
Planning ahead is key for holiday travel, especially with children. The flu epidemic has already begun this winter, so get your flu shot at least a week or two before you travel. Be sure to get enough rest before you begin your journey, especially for adults who are driving long distances.

2. Pack properly.
Pack clothes that allow you to dress in layers, and with air travel, bring an extra pair of clothes in your carry-on in case of delays or lost luggage.

3. Drink water.
Fluid hydration is essential, as dehydration can increase the likelihood of catching a respiratory infection. Bring water and drink on a regular basis.

4. Eat your fruits and (cooked) vegetables.
Try to maintain a balanced diet and pack healthy snacks like fruits and nuts to munch on throughout the day. When you stop to eat, avoid ordering salads since they can be a source of infection. Stick to eating fruits and cooked foods.

5. Wash your hands.
Hand hygiene is very important to avoid infections, so carry hand sanitizer and wash your hands with soap and water whenever possible.

6. Take frequent breaks.
Make sure to take breaks and move around, especially for adults who are more likely to develop blood clots when sitting for long periods of time. To keep the blood flowing, stop at rest areas and walk for at least 10 minutes if you are traveling by car, or walk the aisle if you are traveling by plane for longer than two hours.

7. Use local urgent care for emergencies.
In the event that you or a family member gets sick, be sure to visit an urgent care center to prevent the rest of your party from getting infected and enable you to enjoy the rest of your holiday vacation.

Written by Staff for Duke Medicine    |    Added February 17, 2014