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4 tips for avoiding sickness on vacation

September 5, 2014

Traveling can be a fun way to enjoy your retirement and explore new parts of the world. With the holidays approaching in just a few months, you may be in the early stages of planning various trips to visit friends and family and reconnect. However, close travel quarters and long days of sightseeing can make you more prone to illness, which is the last thing you want during your highly anticipated vacation.

Check out these senior health tips to keep your immune system strong and protect yourself from getting sick when you're in unfamiliar territory:

1. Practice healthy habits before you leave

In the days leading up to a vacation, you may be rushing around to tie up loose ends and make sure you have everything you need. Your sleeping and eating habits to suffer as a result, which could lower your immune system and make you more susceptible to getting sick while you're away. Redbook Magazine recommended loading up on probiotics several days before a trip to prepare your digestive system for a change in diet. The supplements will help keep your bacteria levels balanced so you're less likely to experience stomach issues.

To protect yourself from a cold, the magazine suggested getting high-quality rest for a few nights before your departure. Overnight, your body will work to repair its immunity and help protect you from getting sick. Sleep is an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle for seniors whether they're traveling or not, which is why you should aim to get as much rest as possible at all times.

2. Keep sanitizing supplies handy

Hand sanitizer and cleansing wipes are great things to have in your bag at all times, especially when traveling and germs and bacteria are everywhere. Washing your hands is the ideal way to stay sanitary, but these alternatives are useful when soap and water aren't available. If flying, AARP recommended using cleaning cloths to wipe down areas that come in contact with passengers. Objects like your eating tray, seat pocket and window shade sometimes carry bacteria because they're frequently used by a number of people. Arm rests should also be wiped down for additional protection against germs, since your extremities come in contact with them.

3. Seek natural remedies for nausea

While certain medications can help fight against an upset stomach, AARP reported that natural substances like ginger can sometimes be more effective. Ginger can postpone stomach issues and speed up your recovery if you're already feeling sick. Before your trip, it might be a good idea to stop at a drugstore and pick up ginger tablets or snacks like ginger snaps and gingerbread, which contain the substance. Ginger ale is another good source if you prefer, but just make sure that it notes on the bottle that the beverage is made with real ginger. Some sodas use artificial flavor instead of the actual ingredient, which could prevent you from receiving its benefits.

4. Drink (bottled) water

Being dehydrated can make your body's processes run more slowly, cause you to feel sluggish and also make you more prone to developing a blood clot when you're on an airplane, noted AARP. Make sure you're drinking at least four glasses of water each day to flush out your system and keep you healthy. Try to reduce your intake of alcohol, which could dehydrate you. The National Institutes of Health also noted that it's important to opt for bottled fluids to use for drinking and brushing your teeth, as foreign water - even within the same country - can sometimes cause your stomach to get upset.