Spring Break Travel Tips
We line up like soldiers trapped between parallel rails meant to imprison my family for the next hour. As the sun’s oppressing rays feel heavy on our skin, I am jarred by a moist sensation on the back of my neck, followed only by, “excuse me”. There is a young father behind us power sneezing, and his little girl has a wet barking cough that is coming toward me in slow, cinematic motion (think of germ bullets approaching you, like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix.) I turn quickly, only to receive the dad’s apologetic shrug. I feel a sense of disgust and solidarity with him as my own daughter is rubbing her eye, massaging our neighbor’s bacteria into her own conjunctiva before picking her nose. I try not to guess what that foul chunky puddle is, while I try to stop our whole family from stepping into it. It’s finally time to enter the attraction’s car and the lady getting out in front of me has a rash like thing going on. Eeew…
“Think of germ bullets approaching you, like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix.”
I’m sure you are familiar with this scene and the stupidity of taking children to Disneyland during the most crowded time of the year, Spring Break. How we love our children. The time of year that I once associated with a new bikini and tan lines to match is now all about paying large sums of money to stand in line for a very long time, where people are bumping into and breathing on you and always at least 40 yards away from any bathroom when someone needs to pee or wash up.
I’m no germophobe, and I know that interacting with various microorganisms is healthy to the microbiome, but your immune system is fighting off a much larger burden than the usual of invasions and toxins in these situations. I have a few tricks up-my-sleeve to help stay healthy when it comes to negotiating large crowds, crappy foods and recycled airplane air.
Homemade/Non-Toxic Hand Sanitizer
Triclosan free! Pour two ounces of vodka in a spray bottle along with a few drops of lavender and tea tree oil. I spray on our hands as needed, on the seats of the airplane and toilets before I put the tissue paper seat protectors on.
I take 100mg of vitamin C 3x a day for two days leading up to travel and during. I give the kids packets of fizzy Vitamin C powder to put in water, children’s chewable C and I pack several oranges. Raw or sprouted pumpkin seeds for zinc also help protect against viruses and are a yummy snack for the kids and me.
Whey Protein Powder
No one eats well at amusement parks, and whey protein powder is great for travel because it is easy to pack and you can just mix it with water in between meals. Studies show that consuming whey protein increases glutathione production and is an immune modulator. Choose grass fed, cold processed or raw and avoid artificial flavors and sweeteners. Colostrum powder is another good choice.
You can’t ever really avoid “germs”, but keeping your milieu or microbiome healthy by boosting your own beneficial bacteria is essential to fighting infection when travelling. There are so many choices! Dairy, non dairy and the earth-based probiotics are all good options to naturally support the human immune system. We take probiotics regularly around here but really double up during travel.
For more information on using probiotics, see Dr. Burkman articles, our resident expert on probiotic health.
When we go on vacation we always bring glass bottles of mineral water by the case. If we fly, our first stop after we land is always at the store to pick some up. Your body will be working extra hard to fend off the additional environmental toxins you are exposed to on holiday, so the water will help you detox and feel energized. Minerals are the unsung heroes of health. With modern farming practices and poor water quality, most all we eat and drink is lacking in essential minerals that are important to cellular health. In a pinch you can sprinkle some sea salt in your water. Staying hydrated will also prevent against constipation, which many people suffer from when traveling.
Last time we were at Disneyland we were stopped by security for smuggling in what the guard thought was a bottle of vodka, when it was a bottle of mineral water! Pack it in your own safe water bottle and leave plenty in the car and hotel.
Avoid, Eliminate Sugar
Sugar reduces your immune system better than anything, so a plane ride or crowded amusement park is the wrong place to drink soda or energy drinks. If you are still in denial about how bad sugar is for your health, get over it! A search on PubMed of the US National Library of Medicine the National Institutes of Health for “sugar” and “cancer” has 160,548 results. Sugar is hidden in so many foods and you can pretty much guarantee the park will be filled with it. Choose simple healthy food and read labels.
I know, I know, this is a vacation! If you don’t want to maintain your exercise regime on holiday, there are easy things you can do to help relax and stay energized. To combat both physical and mental stress while away from home, try simple stretches in the morning and evening, running through some yoga poses in the hotel room or hitting the hotel fitness center. Make sure the kids get time to run around and burn off excess energy as well as some quiet time to recharge—not with television or electronic devices, which are stimulating and can cause sleep disturbances. Bring paper and pencils or crayons so young kids can draw pictures of what they liked about the day and older children can start a travel journal.
Although vacations are supposed to be relaxing, they are also some of the most stressful things you can do together. Its important to reduce stress as much as possible because stress and is accompanying hormone, cortisol, also compromise immune function. When vacationing it helps to plan ahead but stay flexible and know that things won’t always go according to plan. Make sure you and yours get plenty of sleep and remember to breathe and smile.
Those are a few of my favorite ways to stay keep healthy when traveling to crowded places. What are yours?