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‘Tis the season to be traveling…with more than 46 million people driving at least 50 miles from home during the Thanksgiving weekend. According to AAA, air travel is projected to be at the highest level since 2007, with nearly 4 million people flying to their destinations. So before you hit the roads (or skies), take a few moments to plan for healthy holiday travel.

Traveling by Automobile

  • AAA reports the primary reasons for breakdowns are dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. Before the trip, make sure your vehicle is properly maintained, have the tires inspected and consider taking an extra key.
  • If you’ll be traveling through winter conditions like sleet and snow, keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up; avoid using cruise control when driving on slippery surfaces; and add antifreeze to the radiator. Also check to see if snow chains are needed where you’re going.
  • Be prepared for busy roads and map out your route in advance.
  • Make frequent rest stops, at least every 2-3 hours. Just a few minutes off the road can improve alertness and alleviate drowsiness.
  • If traveling with children, remind them not to talk to strangers. Go with them on bathroom breaks at rest stops.

Traveling by Plane

  • Research suggests there is a 3 percent increased risk of catching the flu for air travelers. If you haven’t had your vaccine, get one immediately. It takes about two weeks to become effective, so at least you’ll be ready for Christmas travel.
  • Viruses and bacteria can live for hours, or even up to a day, on some surfaces. Consider taking your own sanitary wipes to clean tray tables. Avoid using seat-back pockets, which are often stuffed with soiled napkins and trash. And instead of using the airline’s blankets and pillows, which don’t get sent to the laundry until the end of a day’s flights, use your own jacket.
  • Leave early to reduce stress. Air travelers are encouraged to arrive 75 minutes early for domestic flights and 3 hours early for international flights. Count on there being increased traffic on roadways leading to airports, as well as longer lines at check-in and security.
  • Stretch often. Prolonged sitting on the plane can prevent for blood from circulating normally, so stretching can help lower your risk of blood clotting. If you are at particular risk for blood clots, talk to your doctor about wearing compression hosiery while traveling.

Prescription medications can be one of the most difficult things to purchase while traveling. If you need refills and haven’t called them in yet, do so immediately. Be sure to take extra medication with you in case your travel plans are delayed. Also plan ahead for over-the-counter medication needs like aspirin, decongestants and antibiotic ointments. And if you have the space, throw in some bandages and a thermometer for good measure.

Whether you are traveling by car or plane it is very important to stay hydrated, which even helps with jet lag. Also consider packing your own healthy meals rather than stopping for food along the way. Good nutrition will help you remain alert, while protecting the waistline. With just a little planning, you increase your chances of having safe, healthy holiday travel.

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