Visiting far-flung family members during the peak travel times of the year puts you at risk for everything from colds and flu to falls, tummy troubles, and even highway accidents. The weather is often at its most uncooperative, making roads and sidewalks slippery if not impassable. Mother Nature is also a master at causing flight delays. Beyond that, with so many people going home for the holidays, traffic jams are inevitable. Crowds are a given as well -- including babies and children who, with their immature immune systems, are notorious for spreading germs. Not only that but if you're trekking a good distance, the changes in time zones and resulting jet lag will throw off your circadian rhythms. But cheer up! With a few simple strategies, you can ward off problems and enjoy the merriest of festivities with the ones you hold dear.
Before You Leave:
Get Your Flu Shot
You can make a doctor's appointment or simply visit a retail clinic in a big box store or a chain drug store to get a shot to protect you against this season's strain of the flu. Remember, the flu isn't always just a nuisance ailment. Complications can turn it into a serious threat to your health. Don't take chances!
Invest in Good Walking Shoes and Boots
The distance from the airport entrance to the gate is bound to be quite a hike. Even with moving walkways to speed you along, you'll be covering quite a distance. Be sure your footwear is comfortable and supportive. Also, if you plan to do any walking outside when the weather is wintry, waterproof boots with good traction are essential.
Have your car checked.
If there's a road trip on your agenda, make sure your car is in top shape, including tires and spares. Also, pack an emergency kit with food, supplies, and flares just in case.
When You're En Route
Avoid Catching a Cold on the Plane
Frequent hand washing is your best defense, and alcohol-based hand sanitizers are important as well. Use them not only for your hands but also to wipe down the surface of your tray table before you eat. In addition, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Airplane air is extremely dry and you can end up coughing and sneezing. That in turn can irritate your nose and throat and make you more prone to getting sick.
Don't Fall Prey to Deep Vein Thrombosis
This is a potentially dangerous condition that involves blood clots forming, usually in your legs. Never sit for long periods with your legs crossed. For that matter, never sit for long periods at all! As soon as the seat belt sign goes off, get up and stretch and take a walk up and down the aisle. If you're riding in a car, make frequent rest stops so you can get some exercise.
Keep Valuables Safe
While you're guarding your health, think about keeping your valuables safe as well. Consider getting a strap-on pouch that hides cash, credit cards, and your health insurance card under your clothes. Also, be careful to put your driver's license or other photo ID back in the same place in your wallet or security pouch after each time you have to show it at a security checkpoint. When you're fumbling with taking your shoes and coat off, getting your laptop out of the case, and taking off watches and jewelry, you can easily get distracted and misplace that all important piece of identification. Remember to take care of putting it away before you do anything else.
During Your Visit
Don't Let Yourself Get Too Hungry
That may sound odd considering all the holiday fare that's usually in the offing, but when your regular schedule is disrupted you may end up skipping meals and then overeating. That can lead to indigestion, constipation, and hemorrhoids. A good plan is bring along snacks such as power bars and small packages of dried fruit to keep you satisfied between meals.
Stick With Your Hand Washing Routine
Even after you get off the plane and away from crowded public places, be religious about keeping your hands clean with soap and water and hand sanitizer. This is especially important if the grandchildren have colds or have had colds recently. You'll be handling toys, helping set the table, and maybe sharing a bathroom.
But, of course, you'll also be sharing good times. That's what your visit is all about and it's why you want to take every precaution to make it a safe, healthy, and happy one. Enjoy!