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November 19, 2018

Traveling for Thanksgiving? Here are 6 tips on how to stay healthy.

Daily Briefing

    Editor's note: This popular story from the Daily Briefing's archives was republished on Nov. 27, 2019.

    This year, more than 55 million people are expected to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday—and whether you're flying, driving, or taking a train, traveling can take a toll on your health. The New York Times' Shivani Vora outlines six tips to maintain a healthy lifestyle, no matter where the holiday takes you.

    Traveling for Thanksgiving? How to avoid getting sick when you fly

    6 tips for staying healthy while traveling

    "It's easy for healthy lifestyles to go to the wayside when you're traveling," Vora writes. But with a few easy tips, Vora writes, you can learn to "combine pleasure with wellness when you're on the road."

    1. Find time to exercise: "Even a small amount of exercise will go a long way in maintaining your fitness and keeping your energy levels high," Vora writes. She recommends taking at least 10 minutes at the start of your day to do a short, high intensity workout. For example, she writes, you could combine a series of push-ups with walking up and down several flights of stairs, take a short run, or complete an in-home exercise video. Vora notes you can also try to schedule an active activity into your day, such as biking or walking.

    2. Schedule some 'me time': Traveling can be very stressful, that's why it's always important to "[s]chedule 'me time' into your day to exercise or unwind," Vora writes. Sara Clemence, the author of
    "Away and Aware: The Field Guide to Mindful Travel," recommends taking a few moments to engage in mindfulness during travel. According to Clemence, you can take a "digital detox" while you're away and try to be fully present in your day. Clemence also says travel can be a great time to practice meditation, taking five minutes a day to practice quieting your mind.

    3. Get lots of sleep. Sleep is fundamental to health, and it becomes more important when you're dealing with jet lag, Charles Czeisler, the director of sleep and circadian disorders at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said. To fight jet lag and adjust to your new time zone, Czeisler recommends taking a short walk, or even a midday nap.

    4. Drink lots of water: "This simple tip helps with everything from dehydration to constipation to overcoming jet lag," Vora writes. She recommends starting your day by drinking 16 ounces of water.

    5. Pack healthy snacks. Allison Arnett, a registered dietician and the health and wellness manager at Yale Hospitality, said, "You want to pack simple, spill-proof foods that you're going to enjoy eating." Whole fruits, such as apples, pears, plums, are great options, as are unsalted nuts and seeds, air popped popcorn, and hard boiled eggs. For a more substantial snack, try a deli meat and bell pepper wrap or homemade trail mix, Vora writes.

    6. Pack light (and safe). When it comes to packing, Vora writes, "[y]ou absolutely don't need to stuff your suitcase with workout gear to stay active." For short bursts of exercise, a pair of sneakers and a set of workout clothes will suffice. It's also important to bring a first-aid kit "in case you get hit with a stomach bug or the flu or have a scrape or fall," Vora writes.

    Everything in moderation—including moderation

    While all of these tips can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle while traveling, it's not the end of the world if you do decide to break from your diet for the holidays, Vora writes. Nutritionist Joy Bauer said gaining a few pounds during vacation will not affect your health in the long run. But, if you're used to being active or eating a clean diet, you might feel fatigued, from the changes in your diet and activity level, Vora writes. As long as you return to healthy eating and a regular exercise routine when you get home, you can probably lose the extra pounds in a couple of weeks (ABC News, 11/27; Reed, Forbes, 11/14/18; Vora, New York Times, 11/9/18).  

    Heading home for Thanksgiving? How to avoid getting sick when you fly

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