This holiday season, more than 38 million people will travel on domestic airlines, according to industry trade organization Airlines for America. That means it’s more important than ever to stay healthy during the winter travel period, which also coincides with the peak of the flu season, between December and February.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends receiving an annual flu shot, especially for travelers in close contact with other passengers. But there are a number of preventive steps travelers can take build up their immune systems and stay in top shape. Dr. Luis Navarro of The Vein Treatment Center also provides tips for preventing circulation problems while seated on an airplane.
Here are 9 ways to stay healthy while traveling during the holidays:
1. During a flight, walk around the cabin each hour to promote circulation.
2. Passengers can also employ a number of stretches while seated. It also helps to rotate and flex ankles, feet and toes whenever possible.
3. If you are able to, raise feet 6 to 12 inches above heart-level to assist blood flow. Wearing compression stockings can also have a similar effect.
4. Foods that are high in salt can cause constipation, and put added pressure on the circulatory system.
5. When traveling, contact lens wearers should opt for glasses instead. In addition to dry, recycled cabin air, contact lenses can also dry out eyes and make them susceptible to outside bacteria.
6. Wash hands frequently or keep hand sanitizer readily available, especially when touching high-contact areas. Overhead bin handles, armrests, tray tables and bathroom faucets and door handles often contain many strains of bacteria.
7. Eat foods with high nutritional value, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Supplements that include garlic, Echinacea, ginseng and probiotics can also bolster the immune system.
8. Getting less than six hours of sleep increases the odds of catching a cold. If you have trouble falling asleep on airplanes, try sticking to your normal bedtime routine, such as brushing teeth or reading a book. Don’t forget to bring neck pillows, a blanket, earplugs and a sleeping mask.
9. Dressing for comfort can also help ease you into sleep. Wearing comfortable clothes is also better while traveling, because tight cloths can cut off blood flow.