Traveling is fun because it allows us to reconnect with some parts of life that we may not be familiar with. Nothing beats the excitement of planning to see a new city, exploring a new culture, and trying new food. Traveling challenges us to try new things, embrace a new culture and share lovely memories with friends and family.
Traveling has a thousand and one benefits, but it also comes with its own risks.
Getting our of your daily routine can provide great benefits, but also poses a risk to your health.This piece is not meant to scare you into canceling your traveling plans, but to better prepare you, so you and your loved ones will enjoy a seamless experience when you go see the world.
The negative health effects of traveling:
Studies have shown that depending on the destination, travelers can be exposed to several infectious diseases. The risk of infection also depends on the trip’s purpose and, most importantly, the standards of accommodation, the hygiene and sanitation of the area where the traveler will be lodged, and the traveler’s behavior.
Some of the negative health effects of traveling include exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF). There is currently an increase in the use of mobile phones and modern technologies, and the amount of EMF and radiation stemming from these technologies has some health implications. These radiations are even more concentrated in crowded places such as airports, where there is an increase in Wi-Fi usage. Health analysts have averred that these radiations negatively impact the central and peripheral nervous systems.
There is also the risk of exposure to carbon monoxide (CO). Studies reveal that CO gas can penetrate the aircraft while it is taxiing, stationery, and cruising mid-flight. Toxic fumes are expressed from the exhaust of nearby aircraft when they are stationary. We can only imagine how much of these hazardous materials in inhaled by humans.
Asides from the physical risks, there is also the mental risk. Traveling means that travelers are detached from their family, friends, and social support system and made to embrace a foreign culture or language for a long or shot while. This risk is heightened, especially for introverts. Those who encounter stress easily may also be at a greater risk of psychological problems. Overall, mental health issues have been considered one of the leading factors of ill health among travelers.
The benefits of staying healthy while traveling:
From what has been stated above, it need not be reiterated that several benefits accompany staying healthy during travel.
Reduces your risk of carbon emissions and EMF radiations:
We earlier raised concerns regarding the risk of carbon emissions and air health hazards that arose from traveling and the negative impact on health. Now, the rule is simple. If 2.4% of global CO2 emissions came from aviation, then it calls for the responsibility of government agencies, companies, and individuals to advocate for a reduction.
Individuals know the negative impact of these emissions and radiations, and it may be important that they look into the rate of emissions from the transporting engines that they intend to travel with or look out for alternative means of traveling via such means.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also enhanced the use of nose masks and if people can embrace this development and new normal, it will positively impact their respiratory system and reduce their risk of lung and breathing problems in the future.
Staying healthy saves costs:
Today, several companies are implementing health insurance policies to protect the lives of their workers. However, it has been discovered that a good number of employees do not use these to their advantage until they fall ill. Staying healthy during travel is cheaper than remedying a sickness.
Moving to a new location comes with health hazards and adaptability issues. If your doctor is aware of this, he would be able to kit you up with the right medications that you need and tests to ensure that you are not already ill before moving into the new territory. Putting this into context, imagine that you have malaria and you are then traveling to a mosquito-concentrated zone without knowing that your destination is such; you stand the risk of falling terribly ill, where you could have prevented this and saved cost.
Freedom to meet people and move about:
The essence of traveling is to meet people or tour a city. Once you are sick, the aim of these is defeated. The advantage of being healthy is that you have the freedom to make decisions that affect you. You can achieve the goal or aim of your traveling without limitations or restrictions, which is why looking for every means to stay healthy during your travel is essential.
The health of the next generation:
While this may not be seen as a key reason to stay healthy, it actually is. Children are very imitative individuals and learn several health-related behaviors from adults around them.
Very often, while traveling during the spring, summer, or winter, which is when most travels occur, children, imitate what their parents do. One of which will be discussed later is proper eating before traveling. In 2018, researchers discovered that there was a higher probability of making dietary and lifestyle choices in children who participated in cooking and gardening at home. It follows from this that asides from trying to stay healthy for yourself while traveling, it is very important to also consider the next generation.
How to Stay Healthy During Traveling:
Now that we have assessed the benefits of staying healthy during travels. It is equally important that we also appraise how this can be implemented. The world is gradually adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic and people can now travel compared to how they used to two years ago. The following steps can however be taken to ensure healthy safety:
This point is very highly underrated but very important. A study conducted in 2015 showed the essence of sleep especially when crossing time zones. It has even been noted that disruption to one’s circadian rhythm has the potential to negatively impact their immune system. The best way to improve your sleep is to ensure that a week before your trip, you have gradually or completely shifted your bedtime to the time of your destination. It is also very important that you avoid caffeinated drinks as they affect one’s sleep pattern.
Have a standby first-aid kit:
No one expects to use a first aid kit during traveling and most people would rather not have one considering the additional load. However, if the load is not an issue, you may consider having one especially if you are traveling with your kids. Nowadays, there are even light weighted first-aid kits. It is important that your kit has acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever and pain-relieving, antibacterial wipes, anti-diarrheal medicines like Imodium, disinfectants, and antibiotic ointments.
Avoid aisle seats:
When choosing your seat on an airplane, you should avoid seats on the edges or aisles. First, it will decrease the stress of always standing up when your neighbor decides to step out, and most important, it will de-risk your exposure to germs. A 2008 investigation by the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention noted that passengers that sit on aisle seats of a plane were at an increased risk of exposure to the outbreak of a virus.
Communication with your travel companion:
It is not uncommon for your travel companion not to be cautious of your health concerns. It is why communication is very important. It is crucial that your companion is aware of your intentions to be consistent with a healthy diet and have regular exercise. Your companion may be a lackadaisical eater but that does not necessarily mean that you should be. Hence, communication is essential to planning one’s health during travels.
Stay Hydrated and maintain healthy diet:
The fact that there is no downside to being well hydrated cannot be overemphasized. This is especially considering the tendency of being dehydrated while traveling; more so when you are flying. It is important that every hour that you are in the air, you drink about 8 ounces of water. This point is especially needed for alcohol consumers. One key benefit of being hydrated is that it not only makes you feel better, but it also decreases your chances of falling sick since your body will be strong enough to fight the airborne germs that are present in the planes.
Try to incorporate nutritious foods while traveling. It is definitely a great time to indulge and treat yourself, but incorporating whole foods can help your body regulate.
Traveling can already a tedious exercise. The worse thing that you can do is to intentionally stress your body system and risk your health due to carelessness. We believe that these few tips mentioned above will improve your hygiene and keep you safe while you travel. While you’re out of your normal routine, it’s important to stay healthy so that you can enjoy your vacations.