Healthy Travel: Remember to S.N.O.W.B.O.A.R.D.

By Dr. Margaret Lewin

It is widely known that traveling long distances can take a toll on our immune systems, especially during the winter months when the temperature drops and our susceptibility to illness rises. With more than 50% of travelers suffering from a travel-related illness… how can we prevent illness from ruining the holidays? 

Remember to S.N.O.W.B.O.A.R.D.: 12px;">

: 16px; color: #ff0000;">Stay away from sick people - at least 3 to 6 feet, when possible.  If the passenger next to you on the plane is coughing and sneezing, and you can’t change seats, offer him a packet of tissues and turn the air vent toward him.

: 16px; color: #ff0000;">Never go outside without wearing a good sunscreen - Not only is sun exposure a risk for skin cancers, but it’s also a major cause of pre-mature wrinkling.  (Just look at the skin of the year-long ‘ski bums’ around you – they’re probably at least 10 years younger than you’d predict by looking at the lines and crevices on their faces!)

: 16px; color: #ff0000;">Obtain your flu shot(s) at least two weeks before your travel, so you have time to rev up your immune system for your trip.

: 16px; color: #ff0000;">Wash your hands scrupulously  There are only two ways to catch a cold or the flu: by getting the virus from an ill person’s sneezing or coughing directly at you, or by his coughing into his hand and then touching a doorknob or banister which you yourself touch – picking up the virus.  Once you touch your face or food with that contaminated hand, you're well on your way to spending part of your well-deserved vacation huddled under the covers.

: 16px; color: #ff0000;">Be sure to get enough sleep and fluids Winter vacations can be physically exhausting, and your system needs enough rest for you to enjoy the next day’s activities.  You also need plenty of fluids to compensate for the dry, cold air outside and the warm dry air in front of the fireplace.

: 16px; color: #ff0000;">Over-the-counter vitamin D (at least 800IU daily) is thought to offer some protection against colds and the flu.  (You also need vitamin D for good bone health, and it may even offer some protection against the eventual development of heart disease and dementia.)

: 16px; color: #ff0000;">Allow plenty of time to get in shape before your trip if your plans involves strenuous outdoor activity.

Remember to check your health insurance Make sure that you’re generously covered for medical evacuation… just in case.  If your policy isn’t adequate, take a look online  to find inexpensive travel health and accident coverage.

Don’t forget to eat healthily