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Four Ways to Stay Healthy During Your Holiday Travels

Whether it’s by train, boat, car or plane, more than 100 million Americans will be traveling for the holidays this year! That means there will be more than 100 million opportunities to share joy, holiday greetings….and germs. Here are four of the best ways to stay healthy if you’re traveling over the holidays.

1) Carry hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.

When you’re traveling, it’s important to know where the germs are most likely to be lurking. For instance, a 2015 study of airplanes showed that the tray tables had 8 times the number of germs as flush button in the lavatory! In hotel rooms, the remote control is one of the germiest surfaces. And if you’re heading to the grocery store for holiday feast ingredients, remember that 50% of grocery cart handles are contaminated with E. coli and other dangerous germs.

By wiping down germy surfaces with disinfectant wipes, and frequently washing your hands, you can help prevent infections that dampen the holiday cheer.

2) Get your flu shot.

People who fly over the holidays are 113% more likely to contract a viral infection than people who use other methods of transportation. Influenza is especially contagious because it’s airborne, meaning you can contract it just by breathing the same air as someone who’s infected. So, to stay healthy over the holidays, make sure you get your flu shot! It takes 7-14 days to build up immunity to the flu once you get the shot, so it’s wise to get your flu shot at least one week before you travel.

3) Limit alcohol consumption.

While it may be fun to celebrate the holidays with champagne or spiked eggnog or a festive cocktail, it’s wise to moderate your alcohol consumption to avoid adverse health effects. If you’re flying, the dry air and low air pressure make you prone to dehydration, which is exacerbated by alcohol. 

If you’re driving, it’s important that you and every driver you know is sober when you’re at the wheel. Sadly, more than 300 Americans lose their lives in car crashes every year between Christmas and New Year’s due to intoxicated drivers.

Even if you’re not flying or driving, it’s important to moderate your consumption of alcohol, since excessive alcohol can cause pancreatitis, accidents and falls, poor decisions (like unprotected sex), and cardiac arrhythmias (sometimes called ‘Holiday Heart Syndrome’ since there’s an increase in cardiac arrhythmias during the holidays due to excessive alcohol consumption.)

4) Get at least seven hours of sleep a night.

Several studies have shown that you need to get at least seven hours of sleep a night for your immune system to function properly. In fact, people who got less than seven hours of sleep a night were more than 30% likely to get a viral infection than their well-rested counterparts. In spite of the hectic holiday season, prioritize sleep to make sure your celebration is as healthy and happy as possible. Not getting the best sleep possible? Try these out-of-the-box tips and tricks for a better night's rest!

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