Best Flu Hacks Every Traveler Should Know

While everyone wants to make the most of their vacation, travel can do a number on one’s health, and during flu season, the risk of feeling unwell is even higher. Feel your best with these tips:

• Flu levels increase during winter because people spend more time in enclosed spaces together touching surfaces and breathing “shared” air. Traveling only amplifies this. Reduce your chances of swapping germs by avoiding contact with shared items. For example, don’t put your face directly on airline-supplied pillows or blankets that haven’t been sanitized.

• Ironically, just when handwashing is most vital — while traveling — it becomes less convenient. Carry handwipes and sanitizers and use them when you can’t wash your hands. More importantly, avoid rubbing your eyes or nose.

• An airplane cabin’s dry air accommodates the growth of viruses that thrive on low humidity. Additionally, travelers often refrain from hydrating to avoid frequent bathroom trips. Yet, when mucous membranes are dry, they can’t keep germs at bay. A general rule is to drink at least 8 ounces of water for every hour in the air. Under the weather? Drink more than the daily recommended 8-10 cups to prevent dehydration caused by fever, loosen mucus, keep your throat moist and lessen the chance of the virus’ success.

• Getting medical attention away from home is tough. Travel smart with over-the-counter products that are homeopathic and easy to use. Some, like Oscillococcinum, are good to pack in your carry-on so you can take at the first sign of symptoms. Though these uses have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, clinical studies show that Oscillococcinum reduces the duration and severity of flu symptoms such as body aches, headache, fever, chills and fatigue. Widely available in supermarkets and drugstores, this flu medicine is taken without water, making it an ideal travel remedy.

“I recommend that travelers keep Oscillococcinum on-hand: an easy-to-take, non-drowsy medicine that can be used for anyone ages 2 and up,” says Dr. Ken Redcross, a board-certified physician in internal medicine and author of “Bond: The 4 Cornerstones of a Lasting and Caring Relationship with Your Doctor.” “It works best when taken at the first sign of flu, so it’s important to pay close attention to symptoms.”

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• Will you arrive in time to make your connection? What if you forgot to pack Aunt Ethel’s present? There’s no doubt that travel can cause stress, which research has shown can increase susceptibility to flu and even increase the severity of symptoms. Being flexible, prepared and building extra time into your schedule can make for stress-free travel.

• Exercise boosts energy and immunity, so don’t take a vacation from workouts while traveling. Pack workout wear and carve out time for exercise.

• Unusual travel schedules, unfamiliar beds and crossing time zones can disrupt a sleep schedule. Get plenty of rest before your trip to keep your body’s natural defenses at optimum levels.

Getting sick can put a damper on even the best vacation. Take steps to feel your best. (StatePoint)