I just dropped my niece off at the airport for her first trip home since she started college here in Portland! It brought back so many memories of traveling home for the holidays when I first moved to the Pacific Northwest over 27 years ago! So much has changed since then, but there are a few timeless things I've learned about travel in those almost 30 years that I love sharing with patients. Below are my favorite ways to stay healthy while traveling (and I've traveled to a LOT of different places):
- Above all else, don't stress too much! If you have a credit card, ID/passport, boarding pass, you're really good to go. (Of course any necessary medication or medical devices would be included in that). Don't let worrying about what you've forgotten add stress to your travels. Most of us are fortunate enough that we can buy a replacement toothbrush or extra underwear if we absolutely have to.
- Plan on getting to the airport 2 hours early, especially during holiday travel. Weather can be unpredictable and traffic can be crazy too. If you have to drive to the airport, this gives you just enough time for a plan B if you can't find parking (we've had to call a friend to move our car from short-term parking, the lots were so full!!). If you can take public transportation, planning to arrive 2 hours early gives you time for any delays that are out of your control. Security and check-in can take forever during holidays, getting there early takes some of the stress away.
- Buy a cheap, over-the-counter bottle of saline spray. Use this the night before and day of your trip. Then use again the night you arrive and the next morning. If you are taking a long flight, use during the flight too. This keeps the sinuses doing their job! It also helps with recycled/dry airplane and airport air. If you're going somewhere with a completely different climate, especially if it is dryer or you will be in conditioned air/forced air heat and you aren't used to that, the spray can be used your entire stay too. Then I also use the spray the night before my return trip and the first night I arrive home.
- If you're going somewhere warmer, I like to take a C/B vitamin. Check with your practitioner on this. It's not right for everyone and can mess with digestion.
- For most people, some Gypsy Cold Care or other cold/immune support tea can be easy to add to luggage and great to use at the first sign of any cold! I always pack some.
- Take an empty water bottle to fill when you pass security or buy a large bottle of water after security. It's easy to get dehydrated during travel. Staying hydrated helps the immune system work at it's best and can prevent travel fatigue.
- If you are traveling abroad, with a big time change, there is lots of easy to find information out there about how to adjust. I like melatonin at the time I should go to sleep at my destination (not my home time). This is a temporary supplement for the first night or two and the first night or two back home.
- I always travel with a scarf, socks and layers. Lately, we've been housesitting in Hawaii and so we don't want to pack anything but sandals. I still pack a pair of thick socks as the plane gets cold once it reaches cruising altitude. I pack a scarf for the same reason. It also doubles as a blanket or beach sarong. In Chinese medicine, we believe in protecting the neck from cold drafts to prevent neck stiffness and colds too! And I take at least a light fleece to wear if I'm cold on the plane or the place I'm visiting has AC/keeps it colder than I'm used to.
- Pack snacks. I always pack a few easy to travel with snacks like meat sticks, nuts, almond butter packets or fruit leather. This helps if you don't get enough food served on the plane, if it's nasty food, or if you have to buy it (it's always expensive!). It is also great for those unanticipated flight delays which seem to be the norm during the holidays!
- If travel is stressful for you in general, some Rescue Remedy can be helpful too. You can get it in solid format also so you don't add another liquid to your pack.
- Expect the worst! If you expect delays, grumpy people and lost luggage, you can just roll with it when it happens! More often than not, things really work out just fine and I've had some pretty fun experiences in holiday airports with delays (and some not so fun, let's be honest).
In general, I've found that people are actually pretty sweet and upbeat during holiday travel as everyone is in the same boat. So, with a little bit of prep and a measure of self-care, holiday travel can be enjoyable or at least not too terrible. There are many other supplements and formulas that can support your travel! We have lots of tools to help you specifically so don't hesitate to ask your natural healthcare provider! Happy travels and happy holidays!