Travel can be a rewarding part of life. Dr. Zhu in Antarctica
Dr. Colin Zhu is a traveling physician with a passion for travel. His most recent trip was to Antarctica. He writes on how to stay healthy while traveling.
Dr. Colin Zhu is a traveling physician with a passion for travel. His most recent trip was to Antarctica.

Travel is one of life’s joys, but if you get sick while on the road, it can put a real damper on your vacation.

As a traveling general practitioner, I constantly see colds, upper respiratory infections and the common flu in my practice. This constitutes about 90% of my visits. This is predominantly prevalent during the winter season. The flu vaccine has been about 42% effective last season.

So, are there tips to prevent acquiring infections during the winter season and travel? Are there strategies to maintain your health or maybe boost up your immune system? You bet. I harp on prevention rather than treatment, or “too-late remedies.” Let’s take a look.

Travel can be a rewarding part of life. Dr. Zhu in Antarctica
Travel can be a rewarding part of life. Dr. Colin Zhu in Antarctica

6 Tips to Help You Stay Healthy While Traveling

1. Stress – This will come in various forms, especially holiday travel and stress from visiting friends and family members. All these give us stress which dips our immune system and cause us to be more prone to upper respiratory infections.

2. Rest and hydration – These two cannot be stressed enough. Most “cures” of the common cold or flu require one to get enough sleep and water hydration for the body to facilitate our healing processes. Strive for 7-8 hours a day and a minimum of 64 oz of water a day.

3. Proper nourishment – Depending on which region you live in, if you become less
physically active, your body will burn fewer calories and your body will kickstart fat stores. Therefore, it is paramount to stick to cooked, nourishing foods instead of processed, refined foods; basically junk and fast foods. Try preparing winter soups, stews, and one-pot meals. Strive for cooked and less raw foods. Think hearty and nourishing!

4. Physical Activity – Your gym might be closed due to inclement weather, but that does not mean you have to stop working out. Use bands, dumbbells, or simple weight resistance exercises, i.e., push-ups, pull-ups, squats, and lunges. Continued physical activity will keep your immune system strong.

5. Proper hygiene – Another big one here. We can drive down the spread of germs, bacteria, and viruses by doing the following: coughing and sneezing into your elbow, washing hands after shaking hands or touching doorknobs, and avoid sharing utensils with friends and family members. This is especially important while cruising, when germs are easily spread among passengers. Carrying hand sanitizers are vital here. If you know others who are sick, then it may be best to just stay at home and avoiding contact.

6. Maintaining Relationships – This is a bonus one here. There was an almost 80-year-old study of Harvard college students as part of the Harvard Study of Adult Development that started in 1938 and the study wanted to learn what promoted healthy lives. What they concluded was that maintaining relationships was one of the keys to longevity, physical health, and satisfaction. So, when you do visit your loved ones, pay keen attention to strengthening those bonds. They are more important than what you got them for the holidays.

Healthy travel tips from Dr. Zhu, pictured here in Antarctica
Dr. Colin Zhu in Antarctica

Travel is one of my loves as well, but if we get sick then we have fewer opportunities to enjoy our journeys. Use these simple tips to help you stay healthy and make the most of your travels.

Author Bio: Colin currently works as a traveling physician and his traveling work has been featured in publications such as The DO, MedPage Today, and Stat News. Colin is also the founder of TheChefDoc, an online wellness and lifestyle education platform which has been featured in Jarry Magazine and OWaves. Colin is also the author of Thrive Medicine: How to Cultivate Your Desires and Elevate Your Life released December 15, 2017. Colin’s interests outside of medicine include triathlons, scuba diving, and globetrotting.
Facebook: TheChefDoc
YouTube: TheChefDoc
Instagram: @TheChefDoc

Read More Travel Health Tips:

Avoiding Altitude Sickness

Traveling While Pregnant

Travel Health: Is the Water You’re Drinking Safe?


Janna Graber
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