How many of us look forward to a vacation for months, only to have some sort of calamity occur? Besides the obvious jet lag, insect bites, sunburn, and changes in water and eating habits, there are the more serious threats of food poisoning, or the flu. All those foreign viruses and bacteria just waiting to ruin your trip! Here are some easy tips to make your vacation healthier and happier.
Take air travel. When I moved here from the U.K., I became an expert in the art of flying, enduring 22 return trips from London in 24 months. For long distances, consider adjusting a bit to the time difference of your destination. I always try to get up half an hour earlier each morning starting two weeks before a London flight. It’s a bit anti-social, especially when someone calls and you’re in bed at 8:30 P.M., but it definitely works. I can adapt to at least 3 hours of the 5-hour time difference here on the East Coat, before I even leave! Then, to ensure sleep on the plane, always use little foam earplugs (try pharmacies, hardware stores, or gun stores), and an eye mask- nothing disturbs me! A couple of Calms Forte or herbal Valerian, and I’m out. Or take a Dramamine tablet to ensure you sleep.
Also, a wonderful travel idea is to try a foam neck brace from a surgical supply. It stops your head lolling about. Get the large size, so that your head is completely supported. I find them much better than those badly designed little neck pillows. And other passengers and crew are particularly nice to you!
Drink lots of good water, not alcohol or coffee on the plane, as they are dehydrating. Eat lightly, as you don’t want your body to use up its energy digesting a full stomach of food. Also the cabin air is extremely dry, and this can play havoc with the mucus membranes of your sinuses, leaving them vulnerable to possible circulating viruses from all the people in an enclosed space. Use a saline nasal spray (from any drugstore) as often as you remember, and suck on chewable Ester C through the flight- this will also help to protect you.
Try not to touch your face, especially your eyes, with your hands while you travel. This is an especially useful tip, as everything you touch has been recently touched by other hands, and the cold and flu germs are very contagious. To that end, take a little package of wipes, to clean your hands as often as possible.
At your destination, try not to sleep till nighttime if possible. At bedtime, take 2 mgs of melatonin, available at health food stores. Melatonin is secreted from the pineal gland in your brain when it is time for sleep. In short, it can reset your time clock- personally I find it amazing. Since I’ve started using it I’ve had next to no jet lag.
Digestive disturbances are a common hassle for travelers. Some people get constipated almost the minute they leave home. Take magnesium capsules with you, and take 500 mg a day for the first few days of your trip. Also there are the herbs such as Cascara Sagrada or Senna to create a gentle laxative, plus, be sure to drink plenty of water.
A bigger problem is the bacterial threat, usually caused by E. Coli, or Salmonella, the bacterias that cause dysentery, or even parasites such as the common giardia. Everyone knows to drink only bottled water, avoid ice cubes, etc., but the most important advice is to take large amounts of a good quality probiotic product from Natren, Natrol, Metagenics, Twin Labs, etc. These beneficial bifidobacteria can help protect you from attacks by unfriendly bacterias. A friend of mine recently survived a trip through the depths of India unscathed, while her traveling companions dropped one by one with severe “Montezuma’s Revenge”, known in the UK as “Delhi Belly”. They spent much of their vacation running for bathrooms. All she did was take three or four capsules of acidophilus 4 times a day. However, if you do suffer a disturbance, which does not clear up quickly, see a good practitioner when you get home, especially if diarrhea, gas, or bloating remain, or if you lose weight. I’m working now with a client who fell into a river in Thailand. Parasites can be nasty and tenacious, so don’t wait around.
Finally, consider assembling a small first aid travel kit of herbals and homeopathics to carry with you. Besides the items I discussed above, consider these:
–Traumeel from Heel for shock, bruises, injuries
–Calendula tincture for small skin wounds
–Apis 6x for insect bites
–Alpha CF to ward off colds
–Oscillococcinum by Boiron to fight flu
–Gastricumeel by Heel for stomach aches or indigestion
–Cocculus Composition by Heel for travel sickness (really great for kids)
–chewable calcium and magnesium tablets for heartburn
–And of course the indispensable Vitamin C adn Vitamin D to protect your immune system!
Also, remember to carry your kit to be hand checked by the airline- x-rays can wipe out your homeopathics.
Knowing you have some insurance in the form of this health kit, you can relax and have a wonderful time!
Diane Solomon DHM DipI.O.N. is a nutritionist and homeopath trained in London at the prestigious Institute of Optimum Nutrition and British Institute of Homeopathy. She has practiced in England since 1985, appearing on numerous radio and TV programs and lecturing at conferences. She now lives in Fairfield County, Connecticut, where she writes books and articles, consults for the natural remedy industry, and helps clients gain maximum health.