If you’re one of the millions of people planning to travel over the holidays, we’d like you to do it safely. Whether your plans involve car, plane or train take a minute or two to study these simple steps to stay healthy while traveling.
“One health risk to consider when traveling is simply sitting for too long,” says Clayton Cowl, M.D., an expert in travel medicine at Mayo Clinic. “Concerns like blood clots in the legs from sitting too long, becoming dehydrated from lack of fluid intake or drinking too much alcohol, and not walking much when delayed in an airport or train station can be serious. Driving for hours to reach a destination after a long day at work can be as equally worrisome due to fatigue and eyestrain.”
Blood clots can be a concern when a person sits for too long because leg muscles aren’t contracting and blood can pool and stagnate in the vessels. This can lead to deep vein thrombosis and even pulmonary embolism – a potentially fatal condition, caused by clots becoming lodged in the lungs. When travelling by car, both driver and passengers should stop every few hours to hydrate and walk. Plan ahead, and pick some good rest stops along your route. How about a park, a mall, or a place of interest?
As an added benefit, allowing children to run or play in a safe environment while traveling will often help curb their excessive energy in a confined space and may help them relax while traveling for longer periods.
When traveling by plane, check the in-flight magazine for tips on how to exercise in your seat and on trips longer than three hours, get up at least once to take a walk to the bathroom or other end of the plane.
And regardless of how you travel, try to avoid crossing your legs while sitting for long periods, because this can inhibit adequate blood circulation.
If you’re the one doing the driving, plan to get a good night’s sleep the day before the trip, to avoid drowsiness during the journey. If possible, take turns at the wheel with other passengers. Take breaks at rest stops and chose healthy low carb meal options, to avoid crashing after a sugar high. Combining meals or rest room stops with a short walk to get fresh air and stretch can make a big difference in staying more alert and refreshed.
To avoid stiffness from sitting too long, if you’re a passenger try doing some simple stretches, such as extending legs out and back several times and massaging thighs and calves.
To avoid eyestrain and its associated annoying symptoms including sore or irritated eyes, dry or watery eyes, double vision or blurriness, increased sensitivity to light or unremitting shoulder and neck fatigue never drive if you are sleep deprived.
A short nap can significantly relieve these symptoms and non-medicated eye drops can help if eye irritation persists
Whatever your travel method, avoid dehydration. Drink plenty of water and minimize or eliminate alcohol consumption as alcohol dehydrates at a cellular level.
Above all, plan for the worst, and enjoy the best: When severe winter weather hits, many vehicles may become stranded and help may be hours or sometimes days away. Pack a simple emergency kit, including blankets, snacks, water, charging devices, flashlights and activities to keep kids amused.
Thank You for your attention. Now, please fasten your seat belts, place doors to manual and turn off all cellular devices. You’re ready for the holidays!