Holiday Travel Really Does a Number On Your Body

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Holiday Travel Really Does a Number to Your Body

Crowded airports, overpacked luggage, cramped airplane seats — and maybe even a stomach-tightening, nail-biting anxiety brought on by the annual visit to your in-laws — are all very real perils of holiday travel. Add on the weeks of pre-holiday office treats and big holiday meals, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. To help combat all the tolls that holiday travel takes on your body, we talked to a few people asking what they do to guide them through the many menaces of holiday travel and to share their advice.

Dry Skin – Ever noticed how your skin looks noticeably worse the moment you step off the airplane? Your post-flight complexion problems aren’t unique. The recycled air in an airplane with low humidity can dry out your skin in a very short time. Air on trains can also be recycled, or just plain freezing, so prepare for skin dehydration before boarding that plane or train.  It was recommended that applying extra moisturizer the morning you’re traveling and packing a small spray bottle of water to spritz on your face during the trip. Also, before you arrive, apply a few drops of facial oil before re-applying any makeup to freshen up your look. And of course, drink plenty of water – skip the soda and alcohol.

Poor Nutrition – The healthiest airport snack is not a cinnamon sugar pretzel! Beyond all the indulgent holiday foods, airports may encourage further indulgence. When the body enters an extremely stressful state, it craves sugar, did you know that! You keep pumping out those stress hormones, which keep you craving sugar. They also tell the body to hold on to stored fat, rather than burning it for fuel. Holiday travel can be the most important time to nourish the body.  Prepare for these cravings by making a “crash stash” in your carry-on — no matter where you are, if you get hungry or it’s been three to four hours since you last ate, you’ll be ready; packing natural sugar sources, like apples, oranges or other sweet fruits, or nitrate-free jerky, herbal tea, instant steel cut oats, raw nuts, nut butter, English toffee, stevia, and cacao nibs.

Exposure to Germs – During winter travel, it can feel like every other human nearby is a host to some disease you really don’t want.  Be on the lookout for people with COVID symptoms. When you’re traveling, especially by air, you’re exposed to multiple people’s germs. Even if you’re not sitting next to a window seat sneezer, be careful touching pretty much everything in the airport — kiosks, TSA trays, seats at the gate, etc. To prevent the spread of germs, carry antibacterial wipes for your airplane tray table and headrest, and hand sanitizer to use when you can’t wash your hands. And keep your fingers off your face, mouth, eyes, and nose.

Physical Strain – That oversized carry-on you somehow smuggled into the overhead compartment killed your shoulder. Been there…You may feel the unreasonable weight of that bag on your body in the days to come. If you can’t use a rolling bag, center the weight of the bags, so you’re not carrying everything on one side of your body. Always lift from the knees and don’t dismiss the rental carts at the airport to help push your luggage around. If you do get those aches and pains, apply heat to the area, take warm baths, hot showers, or take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory. If you can’t fit those heels or platform shoes in your bag, don’t wear them! Same goes for sandals! Wear sneakers and socks for airports — you need shoes with solid comfort, arch support and never want to be barefoot on airport floors.

Exhaustion – There’s literally no point of flying home for the holiday if you’re just going to whine about how tired and achy you are for the whole visit. Sitting for a long period of time, during travel can increase risk of blood clots in the legs. Get up every two hours and walk around for 10-15 minutes, up and down the aisle of the airplane. Sitting for excessive periods can also cause bowel issues, further worsened by your circadian rhythm being off due to lack of sleep and/or a time change. Include extra fiber in your diet like fiber bars or snacks like raisins, apples, or carrot sticks, drink as much water as you can. Give yourself enough sleep and mental preparation leading up to holiday travel: And while you are away, maintain a regular exercise routine. Bring your resistance bands or go for walks. Spend quiet time for yourself each day, try practicing slow deep breathing, and do it when you need a different perspective.

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