The excitement of work travel wears off quickly for many, and staying healthy can be a challenge. Especially if you’re faced with changing time zones and international travel (among other factors), traveling for work can put your mind and body under higher-than-normal levels of stress, and it’s not uncommon to get sick.
If you travel for work, check out the following tips to stay as healthy as possible. Here’s how to stay healthy while traveling for work.
Get Adequate Sleep
Getting enough sleep might prove more difficult than it sounds, but know that studies confirm that sleep deprivation suppresses the immune system. Try and get a full night’s sleep before and during your travels, and sneak in a nap on the flight over.
If you find yourself sleep deprived, a few minutes of deep breathing has also been shown to help boost immune health.
Make Time Zone Adjustments as Easy as Possible
The one thing that makes sleep difficult when traveling for work is the change in time zones. Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to minimize the damage.
Some of these simple steps include:
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine at least three hours before the new, local bed time
- Go to bed earlier a few days prior to eastward bound trips, later for westward bound travel
- Avoid heavy meals immediately upon arrival at your destination
- Get as much sunlight as possible once you get there (assuming it’s daytime)
Practice Plane Hygiene
There’s no getting around the fact that flying puts you in a confined space with a lot of people, some of whom may be sick. In fact, studies have found that your chances of getting a cold could increase by 20% on a plane!
To minimize your chances of getting sick, choose a seat near the front of the plane, bring healthy foods to snack on, and wash your hands often.
Take a Probiotic
Studies show that probiotic-rich foods and supplements can help boost immune health. Try including fermented foods in your diet regularly (and especially pre-travel) such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha tea, and plain yogurt.
Traveling for work often comes with a lot of sitting. Whether on the plane, in your hotel or in between meetings, try and get in a few minutes of stretching here and there. This will relax your muscles and promote better sleep at night. Stretching and moving your body will also help to oxygenate your cells, leaving you more energized and alert.
Your body needs adequate hydration to function (and avoid sugar cravings and headaches), so carry a water bottle with you. Set a reminder on your phone every hour or so if you tend to forget to drink water.
Prevent Traveler’s Diarrhea
The last thing you need on any trip is a bout of traveler’s diarrhea, which is especially common if you are traveling internationally (but can happen domestically, too).
Choose Healthy Foods When Eating Out
It is well documented that nutrition plays a key role in immune health, so make wise decisions when eating out. Opt for dishes rich in healthy proteins like chicken, fish or beef and veggie options that are not prepared with a lot of oil, such as those that are steamed, roasted, baked or grilled. Keep grain portions to 1/2 cup cooked, and skip the bread basket and dessert.
By following these tips, you can support your body and learn how to stay healthy while traveling for work. And remember that if you do get sick, postponing travel and getting as much rest as possible is advised. Here’s to safe and healthy travels.