How to Stay Healthy on Vacation

Traveling should be good for you. So why do you sometimes return with a cold, extra pounds or stress? Read on, and feel better than ever.
healthy vacation

BEFORE

Start adjusting your sleep schedule to your destination's time zone. If you're heading overseas or your itinerary includes outdoorsy activities, check that your vaccinations are up to date. You don't want a nasty disease for a souvenir.

DURING

Seek out sightseeing activities that incorporate fitness, like a bike tour or a guided hike, which burns about 300 calories an hour. Begin lunch and dinner with a veggie-filled salad or broth-based soup: You'll consume about 12 percent fewer calories. Also, soup's delicious.

AFTER

The airplane probably had its way with you (just ask your popping ears and stuffed nose), so do yourself a favor and book a post-flight massage with a professional or a (really) good friend. Even 10 minutes will help ease your aches and boost your mood.

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DON'T FORGET

Peppermint Tea Bags
Sip the potent stomach soother at the first sign of tummy trouble.

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Jump Rope
It provides a great workout in just five to 10 minutes -- and takes up very little luggage space. If your hotel has carpet, you can jump-rope barefoot and leave your gym shoes at home.

Bananas
They're loaded with potassium, a mineral that, combined with plenty of water, will keep you nice and hydrated. Avocados are another solid source.

Immune Booster
A supplement like Sambucol Immune System Support ($12, drugstore.com), made from elderberry extract, can help ward off colds and the flu.

 

Pedometer
These tiny, lightweight gadgets track the number of steps you take while sightseeing, shopping or touring a museum. It's an easy way to monitor your activity and stay motivated to move.

Hand Sanitizer
Use it before every meal and after you've used public transportation, a pay phone or an ATM.

Seat Cushion
Planes, trains and automobiles mean a lot of sitting around. A cushion placed on your seat will help keep your hips higher than your knees, and that takes pressure off your lower back.

CONSUME LESS

Sugar & Alcohol
We're not going to tell you that you can't have dessert or wine on your vacation. But overindulging can beat up your immune system. Balance it out: The morning after a lavish dinner, have a broccoli omelet for breakfast instead of pastries.

AVOID

Dairy
If you're bothered by sinus pain on airplanes, skip dairy on the day of your flight. It can trigger extra mucus formation, which increases sinus pressure and irritation.

Salt
Lack of humidity in the air on a plane can dehydrate you; to help counter this, eat less sodium before and during your flight.

REMEMBER TO...

Sleep
Slumber is often the first thing to get interrupted by travel, yet it's the most essential to staying healthy. Pack lavender sachets and sniff them while on the plane or in your hotel -- the aroma has been proven to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality.

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Sweat
A brisk 10-minute walk or jog can significantly improve your mood, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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Breathe
Begin and end your day with a few minutes of deep belly breathing -- this simple habit can help lower blood pressure, clear your mind and neutralize stress.

Laugh
Load up your iPod or laptop with favorite comedy shows or albums. A study out of California's Loma Linda University found that laughter lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol by 39 percent.

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