Whether you’re traveling for vacation, holidays, or work, staying healthy while traveling can be a challenge for even the most well-seasoned travelers. Your routine is off, you’re eating new foods, sleeping in a different bed, maybe in a new time zone, and on top of all that, your immune defenses may be down.
As if the germs in airports and airplanes weren’t enough, some research shows that changes in your sleep cycle, like when you’re jet lagged, can throw off your circadian rhythm, which in turn affects your immune response. The stress of travel, from planning to packing to making your flight on time or sitting in traffic jams, can also decrease your immunity .
Parsley Health’s doctors have a few tried and true ways to make travel a little healthier, no matter where you’re headed. Check out their healthy travel tips for your best trip yet. And if you haven’t taken a vacation in a while, here’s why your body medically needs a break .
“To prevent jet lag, pick up some liquid melatonin and use this trick when traveling across time zones: For 2-3 days before your flight take a low dose of melatonin at the time that you will go to bed in the new location. I recommend 5-15 drops, equal to 0.25-0.5 mg taken under the tongue and held for 30 seconds.” – Zandra Palma, MD
“Always check the Travelers’ Health section of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website, especially international travel, for travel health warnings, vaccination and other preventive health recommendations for the regions you are exploring.” – Jeffrey Egler, MD
“If you are prone to motion sickness, an easy safe natural remedy is ginger. I like to carry it on those bumpy boat rides, turbulent flights, or even long car rides. You can take ginger powder in water, ginger capsules, ginger chews, over even drink a nice cup of ginger root tea before travel. Be careful with ginger ale though—it’s just sugar water!” – Harika Pal, MD
“I hate antibacterial products, but I always have antibacterial wipes with me when I travel so I can wipe down everything I’d touch at my seat on the airplane. That tray table NEVER gets cleaned and you eat off of it and touch it for hours.” – Kerri Masutto, MD
“When I travel, there are 3 supplements that I like to bring. 1) Melatonin for the first night or two in a new bed. 2) Magnesium citrate for the first couple of days in a new bathroom! As little as 100-200mg at bedtime can help with constipation. 3) Olive leaf extract in case of illness. I’ve found this to be a helpful antimicrobial for GI bugs and upper respiratory infections.” – Lilli Link, MD
“When I get off the plane I like to do some form of exercise (outdoors preferably) and if possible, ground myself with my feet touching grass. The exercise helps to re-energize me, helps clear any bugs I’ve picked up on the plane by boosting immune response, and helps my body reset. Another thing I’ve been doing recently on my travels is incorporating blue light-blocking glasses to help get rid of excess junk light.” – Jaclyn Tolentino, DO
“When I travel, I always pack my stainless-steel water bottle so I can be constantly hydrating during my trip. I also pack Viragraphis (by Xymogen) to give my immune system a boost. If I feel the slightest hint of a cold coming on, that will usually knock anything out before it gets started!” – Stephanie Wallman, DO
Sara is a content creator who has worked with outlets such as Outside Magazine, Well + Good, Healthline, and Men's Journal, and as a journalist at Shape and Self and publications in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Rome. She is also an ACE-certified personal trainer. She has a degree in communication with concentrated studies in journalism from Villanova University.
Outside of office hours, you can usually find her taking a dance class, trying out the latest fitness craze, or teaching and performing synchronized swimming with The Brooklyn Peaches.