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Is It Possible to Stay Healthy During Holiday Travel?

By Scheryl McDavid | October 30, 2019 | Healthy Lifestyle

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Many people find the holidays stressful. With all the added holiday things you need to do, it can be overwhelming to keep up the healthy habits you’ve worked so hard to establish during the year. The key to your success is planning ahead and staying flexible if things don’t go exactly as planned.

Getting on the Road

Last year, 54.3 million Americans traveled over Thanksgiving, and 48.5 million of those trips by car.1 It’s easy to get wrapped up in the stress of traveling and forget about the importance of keeping yourself healthy.

AAA Carolinas has a few tips for keeping your mind and body healthy while away from home: 

  • Research the place you are traveling to. Research the environment of your destination. Pack proper clothes for the weather, be sure the local water is safe to drink, understand the wildlife and poisonous bugs in the area and be prepared for altitude or motion sickness.
  • Familiarize yourself with your health insurance plan. Make sure your medical coverage travels with you. Some plans do not. If this is the case, consider purchasing traveler’s medical insurance. Medical care in foreign countries can be very expensive.
  • Be properly vaccinated and medicated to protect yourself before traveling.
  • Carry healthy snacks.
  • Carry emergency cash for unknown situations.
  • Carry a first-aid kit with the staple items like band-aids, pain relievers, anti-bacterial creams, and sunscreen.
  • Get plenty of sleep and if necessary, work to acclimate yourself to time-changes.
  • Wash your hands frequently and carry hand-sanitizer when you’re on the go.
  • When driving for a long period of time, pull over to take stretch breaks and restore blood flow to the body.
  • Avoid hands-on experiences or close encounters with wildlife and never feed the animals. This could throw off their natural behavior and make them, or you, sick.

Staying Active

If you’re traveling by car, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that a rest stop is a good place to get active. While you’re there, take 10 minutes to walk, jog, do jumping jacks or other exercises you like.2 Any activity is good!

If you’re traveling by plane, skip the trains or shuttles that take you to your gate or terminal. If you can, try walking there. Some airports now have signs to tell you how far it is to walk instead of riding the train.2

For more great ideas, check out the Weight Watchers Easy In-car Workout for chest, shoulders, forearms, core, glutes, calves and inner thighs. If you’ll be in the car for several hours, you can break up the trip by concentrating on one area each hour or so.

Choose Holiday Treats and Indulgences Carefully to Avoid Weight Gain

For most of us, holiday activities involve large amounts of delicious food. A few simple tricks can help you relax and enjoy yourself more and worry less. Choose foods that focus on fiber. Eat slowly and watch your portion sizes. Avoid sugary drinks and be mindful of alcohol, which has lots of empty calories.

The National Foundation for Cancer Research (NCFR) says certain cancers, including breast, prostate and endometrial (uterine), have been linked to obesity,3 so making healthy food choices during the holidays is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The NCFR suggests you:

  • Snack on a small handful of nuts before parties and gatherings so you don’t overdo it on sweets and unhealthy foods.
  • Make time to move, walk up and downstairs, jump rope for a few minutes, and offer to run errands for friends and family. Stay on the move as much as you can.

Above all, stay hydrated. Water is your best bet, but fruits and vegetables with high water content, like oranges, berries, and cucumbers count, too.

Get Creative to Stay Hydrated

Hate the taste of plain old water? Try these delicious ideas to infuse your water with healthy flavor:

  • Crush pineapple and add fresh mint
  • Mix fresh basil leaves and sliced cucumber
  • Squeeze lemon wedges over halved ripe strawberries

Add ice, cover with cold water and enjoy, or freeze in ice trays to carry with you in a cooler or travel mug.

You Got This!

With a little planning, you can turn the holiday season into an opportunity to recharge your batteries and build healthier habits you can carry into the new year.

Safe travels!


1 Data supplied by PR Director and Spokesperson, Tiffany M. Wright, AAA Carolinas,,