Easy ways to reduce your risk of getting sick while traveling

Travel and tourism is big business. According to research from the World Travel & Tourism Council in conjunction with Oxford Economics, the travel and tourism industry outpaced the global economy for the sixth consecutive year in 2016.

With so many people traveling for business or pleasure, it can be easy for illness to spread. Travelers concerned about their vulnerability to colds or other ailments may be unable to avoid cramped airline cabins or crowded restaurants, but there are ways for both business travelers and vacationers to reduce their risk of getting sick while on the road.

  • Stay hydrated. People may remember to drink water when sitting at their desks in the office or lounging around at home, but travelers who are busy seeing the sights or attending seminars may forget to stay hydrated throughout the day. That can increase one’s susceptibility to illness, as fluids carry nutrients to the cells and flush bacteria from the bladder. Older travelers should be especially vigilant about staying hydrated while traveling, as the Harvard Medical School notes that older men and women do not sense thirst as much as they did when they were younger.
  • Continue exercising. Even vacationers whose primary goal when traveling is to relax and unwind may want to squeeze in a little physical activity during their travels. The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that physical activity can flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways, potentially reducing one’s chances of getting a cold, the flu or another illness. In addition, exercise causes changes in antibodies and white blood cells that could help the immune systems of physically active people detect illnesses earlier than the immune systems of sedentary men and women.
  • Purchase hand sanitizer. One of the easiest ways to get sick while traveling is to come into contact with germs. Travelers tend to be out and about instead of locked inside hotel rooms, so their exposure to germs is likely greater while traveling than it is at home. Airport security agents may discard hand sanitizer at security checkpoints, so it may be unwise for travelers to bring sanitizer with them on their trips. Instead, travelers can purchase some at their destinations, carrying it with them and routinely applying it to combat germs.
  • Get sufficient sleep. Traveling alters routines, and some travelers may find themselves getting inadequate sleep on the road. Studies have indicated that sleep helps sustain a fully functioning immune system, and that chronic sleep loss, which may be a greater concern for business travelers than vacationers, can impair the immune system. When traveling, men and women should make a concerted effort to get adequate sleep each night.

Traveling can be a jolt to the body and make it more vulnerable to illness. But no matter how often a person travels, he or she can take steps to protect their bodies getting sick while on the road.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.