For the 50+ Traveler

Setting off on vacation is one of the most pleasurable experiences. It's a time to relax, get away from your everyday stress, and explore new lands.

However, planning that trip requires patience and research. Once you have purchased the tickets, booked the hotel, and reserved the tours, you may think that you're set to go. You're not. An often-ignored aspect of travel is getting your body ready for the trip. In this article, we will delve into how to prepare your body for travel.

In your youth, you may have hopped on a plane without giving your health a second thought. Perhaps you never felt jet lag or could run up the steepest San Francisco hills without pause. But times have changed. With maturity comes experience, but also the need to take better care of your body. No one wants to spend their vacation days sick in bed, let alone in a hospital.

Thankfully, a little preparation goes a long way. Let's take a look at how you can hit the ground running on your next vacation.

Visit The Doctor

Going to the doctor before you travel may seem like common sense, but you'd be surprised. Before you even buy your tickets, run your plans by your regular doctor. Whether you're hoping to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro or go snorkeling off the coast of Thailand, make sure that doing so won't jeopardize your wellbeing.

Once you've gotten the okay from your doctor, you may want to visit a travel doctor that specializes in these matters. Find out what vaccinations you need as well as what medications you should bring. For example, if you're heading to the heart of the Amazon, you should be cognizant of diseases like Zika and malaria. A travel doctor will advise you on certain areas to avoid and whether you should bring items like doxycycline or mosquito nets.

Visiting the doctor is a crucial part of prepping your body for travel. He or she will take the guesswork out of this process, giving you clear instructions on exactly what your body needs. You don't want to find out that you have an impending heart condition while skydiving in New Zealand. In addition, you should take the opportunity to make sure that your current health insurance will cover you while you're off exploring.

Doctor's arms testing patients blood pressure on table

Get Some Exercise

Even if you already have a regular exercise routine, you might want to consider adding an additional day of swimming or hiking before your trip. This is especially true if, like some people I know, you've spent your retirement days on the couch watching Dr. Phil. Exercise is essential to keeping up your health, maintaining muscular strength, and cardiovascular fitness. When you exercise, you improve your circulation, bolstering your immune system and protecting yourself from sickness.

Even if you don't plan on traveling anywhere, adding a few days of activity to your week could dramatically improve your quality of life. However, when you go on vacation, exercise is that much more important. You're likely to walk much more than usual, and you want to be prepared for activities that may be more strenuous than what you're used to. Pulling a muscle or throwing out your back because you're out of condition is a horrible way to spend your holiday.

Maintain A Healthy Diet

After you visit the doctor, you should have a better idea of how you're doing with your diet. In addition to taking his or her advice, consume more fresh fruits and vegetables. More than likely, you will be indulging in foods that may not be the healthiest while you're on your trip. Therefore, you want to balance this out by preparing your body beforehand.

Improve your immune system before you jet off by upping your intake of vitamin C and antioxidants. You can naturally get these nutrients by eating foods like oranges, kale, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, blueberries, and pomegranates. While it's best to obtain these nutrients from fresh produce, you can also purchase supplements at your local health store.

About a week before your trip, make a concerted effort to stay hydrated. Dehydration naturally occurs any time you fly, especially if you're traversing several time zones. In addition to drinking plenty of water, reduce or eliminate your intake of caffeine, salt, and spirits. The last thing you want is for your body to be working double-time just to perform its natural duties.

Dehydration isn't just a matter of having dry skin or chapped lips; it can seriously affect cognitive functions like memory and alertness, give you muscle cramps, bring on kidney stones, and worse. A parched body struggles to carry on its normal functions and that's a horrible way to embark on your journey. If you feel like you're lacking fluids, be sure to consume foods and beverages high in electrolytes and potassium, such as coconut water and bananas.

Bottles of water with oranges on table

Combat Jet Lag

If you are traveling somewhere outside of your time zone, you'll want to prep your body for the onset of jet lag. When your Circadian rhythm is disturbed, you tend to feel exhausted, irritable, and unable to concentrate. Ensuring that your body is properly hydrated, as discussed above, will help limit the severity of your jet lag. Another great way to avoid jet lag is to invest in 1Above travel tablets, which naturally reduce the effects of jet lag by up to 60 percent.

In addition, you'll want to get plenty of rest. If possible, give yourself one day of down time upon arrival at your destination. Dr. Natalie Dautovich, an Environmental Fellow at the National Sleep Foundation, suggests booking an evening flight so that you can align your body's sleep patterns with the time zone you'll be visiting. In addition, use this Jet Lag Advisor to calculate the optimal hours to sleep and expose yourself to sunlight.

Don't Sit Still

There's a reason why the phrase "sitting is the new smoking" was coined. Prolonged lack of movement is detrimental to your health. While you're on the plane, get up, walk around, and stretch as often as possible. This is equally important when you're on a road trip. Not only does this improve your circulation and reduce inflammation, it will also keep your body energized for your trip. Elite Traveler recommends doing these exercises to stay limber and avoid thrombosis.

Overall, preparing your body for travel is the best way to ensure that you'll make the most of your trip. Taking the above guidance into consideration will help you stay healthy, alert, and happy. After all, who wants to take time away from exploring to be sick? Do yourself (and your body) a favor and get your health on track now so you can focus on enjoying your vacation.

Do you have any tips on how to prep your body for travel? Do you always visit a doctor before vacation? Let us know.