Planes, Trains and Automobiles

October 10, 2021
Travel health and wellness tips

As the world begins to find its footing again, everyone is feeling the need to stretch their legs and spread their wings. This holiday season is sure to be busy with people foregoing virtual gatherings for the real life version. I would not consider myself an expert traveller but I have learned a few things over the years that have made the experience a bit more comfortable. This is what I learned.

Make  sure you can comfortably lift and manipulate your luggage at waist height. If you plan to stow luggage overhead then you should be able to lift and hold your bag overhead without difficulty. Multiple light bags is better than one heavy bag that can ruin a trip with a back or shoulder injury. Also keep in mind how you pack your vehicle. Make sure to place lighter items toward the rear and heavier toward the front. You don’t want to have to bend and reach for those heavy items.

If you are unfamiliar with your destination, be sure to review your trip plans thoroughly. Be aware of any limitations beyond your initial mode of transport. I learned the hard way that not all Chicago rail stations have elevators or escalators to prevent lugging bags up the stairs. Not to mention the family drama that can be prevented by making sure all items packed in the car that may be required before your arrival are easily accessible. 

Tap your toes, shrug your shoulders, squeeze your glutes. Even tiny movements help to keep blood flowing and prevent soreness. Make sure you also take extended breaks to get out of your seat and move about. On long road trips, I like to stop for a quick stretch every two hours. Also, be aware of your overall tolerance to being sedentary. You may need to break your trip up over multiple days.

Neck pillows, sweaters, scarves and blankets are all useful items for supporting your head, neck or  back or for supporting a book/device on your lap. I will always have at least one of these items with me when I travel so that I can use it as a multi-tool of support. Another form of support that I don’t leave home without are compression socks. They come with the added benefit of keeping my feet clean if I have to take off my shoes at airport security.

Short of wearing my pajamas on a plane, I do everything I can to make myself comfortable when traveling. I like to wear loose fitting clothes with shoes that are easy to slip off and on. I also always make sure to layer. That extra layer of clothing can go a long way in bringing comfort when temperature is out of your control. Noise cancelling ear buds or headphones are a good way to bring back a small sense of control  in an airport, on a crowded flight or a crowded car. I also like to add just a drop of a favorite essential oil into my mask to help lower my anxiety on long trips.

As someone who likes to maintain control over most things, it can be challenging to keep it together when that control must be relinquished while traveling. Which is why I have to constantly remind myself to relax and have fun. The mild inconveniences and discomforts you may endure are worth every minute that you can spend with family and friends. So buckle up, get out there, and have some fun this holiday season!

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