Travel and your Health
As we approach the Christmas season, many of us will be travelling. For most of us travelling is an enjoyable experience and something that we look forward to. For others, travelling is filled with hustle and bustle and then there is the added fear of travelling.
Regardless of whether or not you like to travel, you must consider health issues around travelling to minimize bad experiences or health consequences that can occur during travel.
Get Enough Rest – Firstly, the whole process of travelling can be hectic. It may mean stepping away from your routine for a few hours depending on where you are going. For very long trips, it may mean waking up extremely early and flying for long hours before you arrive at your destination. Ensure that you get enough sleep prior to travelling. Persons often think that they can sleep on the flight to recover from missed sleep. This is not the case. Sleeping on an aircraft is not the same as getting a good rest in your bed. A matter of fact, it may be a very uncomfortable feeling trying to sleep in such confined environment.
Stay hydrated – Ensure that you are consuming enough water. Try to keep an eye on your water intake. Ideally, skip alcohol and caffeinated drinks altogether and focus on hydration instead.
Dehydration is a huge contributor to jet lag and digestive disturbance after a flight. Aim to finish a glass every hour if you can.
Be Aware of your Environment- One of the most unsanitary places in airports is the security check point area. The conveyor belts and the trays get thrown upon each day hundred of shoes and bags that have been all over the place. These areas are not cleaned well and are the perfect environment to pick up germs. If you are travelling with food, ensure that it is properly packed in sealed containers. Always carry hand sanitizer and ensure that you remember to wash your hands.
Eat healthy – Ensure that you eat healthy food and that you consume enough. You can snack light and often. Eating little and often keeps your energy up, your digestion moving, and ensures you don’t arrive at your destination starving. Do not depend on airlines to feed you so ensure that you pack enough healthy snacks to last you for the duration of your flight.
Move – Depending on the length of the flight, you may be seated for hours. You need to move at regular intervals and do some gentle stretches to keep the blood flowing freely through your body, mobilise joints, revitalize the vital organs and pacify the nervous system. Simple exercises such as breathing, neck stretch, shoulder rolls, wrist circles, ankle rotations and hip rotations are all useful.
Find things to do- In order to prevent anxiety and to have a comfortable trip, it is useful if you plan on what activities you can do. For most people, watching a movie or reading a book is enough. Take books, magazines, games, puzzles with you so that you can have things to occupy your time and mind.
Before you travel make sure that you plan way in advance and that you are fully prepared.
Dr Rosmond Adams, MD; MSc (Public Health); M.S. (Bioethics) is a medical doctor and a public health specialist with training in bioethics and ethical issues in medicine, the life sciences and research. He is a lecturer of medical ethics and Research Methods.
He is the Head of Health Information, Communicable Disease and Emergency Response at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). He is also a member of the World Health Organization Global Coordination Mechanism on the Prevention and Control of NCDs.