Our immune systems are constantly under threat from seasonal bugs and even unexpected global invaders. Most of us protect ourselves by increasing vitamin intake, washing our hands, and keeping up immune-supporting practices like good sleep and regular exercise.
But what about when we travel? Well, for many of us it all goes out the window. We’re suddenly exposed to extra germy environments in the form of airports, airplanes, hotels, restaurants, and crowded tourist destinations. Yuck.
So what’s an immune system to do when threat levels go through the roof but access to everyday tools seem out of reach on the road? Not to worry.
There are plenty of simple practices you can employ — even when you’re out of your elements — to fortify and protect your immune health while sustaining the energy you need to play (or work) hard.
We know that you want to have fun on vacation. But often we don’t have access to healthy, home-cooked food when staying at a hotel. So do the best you can to support a diet for long-term health. Erratic blood sugar levels and excess body fat are two things that may hinder healthy immune function over time.
Choose foods that support a high-fat, low-carbohydrate nutrition plan or a very low-carb ketogenic diet to keep your immune system humming along, even when you’re not at home. Another tip is to shoot for at least one meal that’s focused on fruits and veggies. Bonus: The extra fiber will ward off constipation common with travel.
Ever notice how traveling seems to strip the very water from your body, leaving you with dry skin and a parched mouth? You’re not dreaming. Traveling is particularly hard on the body, as we’re out of routines and certainly not focused on drinking our daily doses of water. Add in alcohol-fueled festivities and things only get worse.
Dehydration does our immune system no favors. So make healthy fluid intake a priority when you travel by loading up an on-the-go water bottle, choosing green tea for some extra antioxidants in the afternoon, and not overdoing it with stiff drinks each night.
Exercise your creativity.
Regular physical activity supports balanced blood sugar levels and a healthy body composition while also facilitating the movement of immune cells throughout the body. (1) Consistent exercise over an extended period of time is even better for the body’s ability to regulate the immune response to foreign invaders (2).
While we may not make the recommended weekly aerobic activity for ideal metabolic health and immune function, we can keep our exercise habits in play by getting creative with a hotel treadmill, sightseeing walks, ocean dips, yoga on the go, or whatever movement feels good within the confines of travel.
Bring your pharmacy.
If you know it’s going to be hard to stick to all the health routines that support your immune system, don’t hesitate to bring supplements that can help further fortify you in the sometimes stressful, dehydrating, and overstimulating environments associated with travel.
In addition to foundational energy and stress-support supplements like NAD+, GABA, and adaptogenic blends that help you get the most out of your travel days, you can add in key immune-supporting vitamins A, C, D, and E; the master immune botanical elderberry; a zinc throat spray to safeguard your respiratory tract; sleep support like melatonin or calming herbs like passion flower or skullcap; and raw seawater for re-mineralization and re-hydration.
Gosh, it can be hard when you’re in a hotel room or sleeping somewhere unfamiliar without your favorite pillow, supportive mattress, and nighttime rituals. But sleep is absolutely critical to all bodily functions, including metabolic and immune health. (3) So protect it when you travel.
Try not to stay up late too many nights in a row; bring a book or your favorite wind-down activity; employ those blackout shades; play some white noise or soothing sounds to block out distractions; take a soothing bath; and bring as much of your sleeptime routine on the road as possible. If you’re still having trouble getting those critical Zs, try some natural melatonin or CBD at bedtime. The natural compounds can work wonders.
Destress your best.
Chronic stress dampens immune system function. (4) So anything we can do to reduce the tension we feel from modern living is a bonus. It may be easier to destress if you’re on vacation, but tougher if you’re traveling for work. Many known stress-relieving tools like meditation and exercise are portable, so don’t forget to use them on the road.
Even planning, packing, and physically traveling to a dream destination can take a toll and launch your cortisol levels into the nethersphere. Feel free to bring along calming compounds like hemp extract and GABA to promote parasympathetic nervous system activity known to ease body and mind.
So there you have it: six ways to fortify your immune system on the road. Keep this blog handy and review it often as a health checklist for travel. Better yet, don’t forget to stock up on supplements that can give you a boost when you’re out of your elements.