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How to Stay Healthy While Traveling During Cold and Flu Season

DrSugar's Tips For Staying Healthy While Traveling

DrSugar is in the house! And she's answering your health-related questions.

How to prevent getting sick while traveling and why it's good to avoid touching your face (eyes, nose, mouth) during cold and flu season.

OK, FitSugar readers, as we all know, it's holiday time, which is a time for fun, family, friends, and celebration! However, it is also the time of year for colds, flu, and travel. Learn my tips and tricks for staying healthy this season when you


With the holiday season gearing up, I'm sure many readers are worried about getting sick while they travel to their holiday destinations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides many useful tips on its website for protecting yourself from the flu (and from other illnesses, if you are traveling internationally). The official CDC recommendation is to get a flu vaccine prior to travel as an important way to protect yourself and others from the flu virus. It also recommends traveling with a "travel health kit," which would be helpful in case you do get sick while traveling, which would include: tissues, pain/fever medicine, soap, and an alcohol-based antibacterial hand rub to use in case soap and water aren't available. The CDC also recommends only traveling if you feel well enough to do so, as if you fly when you are sick you risk infecting others as well as picking up other illnesses given the immune system depression that occurs when you are sick. Finally, it recommends everyday steps to protect your health and the health of others when traveling: cover your coughs or sneezes with a tissue, or sneeze/cough into your upper elbow/upper sleeve and not your hands, wash your hands often with soap and water (if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based rub), avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and avoid close contact with sick people.


EverydayHealth recommends a healthy diet with lots of antioxidant-rich foods to boost your immune system around and during your time of travel. The website also reports on some of the popular remedies to try to prevent illness such as vitamin C, echinacea, and zinc, as these ingredients have been studied in the medical literature and might keep you from getting sick. "Germ warfare" includes switching seats on the plane (if it isn't full) to a seat away from other people, disinfecting your seat/seat area on the plane, and considering wearing a mask if you or someone you are traveling with is sick.

Finally, WebMD reiterates many of the points above, adding these helpful tips for staying healthy whether you're traveling or not: drink plenty of fluids, do aerobic exercise regularly, eat foods rich in phytochemicals (dark green, red, and yellow vegetables and fruits), eat yogurt, don't smoke, cut alcohol consumption, and relax/de-stress (this will improve your immune system!).

Hopefully with these tips, you will be able to try to prevent illness during the cold and flu season, especially if you are traveling! Happy holidays to all from DrSugar!

Have a question for DrSugar? You can send it to me via private message here, and I will forward it to the good doctor.

DrSugar's posts are for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. Click here for more details.

Join The Conversation
Spectra Spectra 6 years
I would like to stress the importance of diet in preventing yourself from getting sick--foods that have a lot of fiber act as a prebiotic to foster growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut. Having a good intestinal flora prevents other organisms from taking up residence there--remember, 90% of your immune system is in your intestines, so load up on those fruits and veggies! That and washing your hands often are your best defenses against getting sick.
Danny-Feekes Danny-Feekes 6 years
I'll be traveling on Friday. Thanks for the tips Dr. Sugar!
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