Travel Survival Guide to a Safe & Healthy Holiday Season
Dec 18, 2013 - 2:36:35 PM

( - December 18, 2013 - You may be looking forward to Christmas dinner, the holiday parties and hitting the slopes, but if you're one of the millions of people traveling for the holiday season, the trip itself may give you indigestion.   From holiday weight gain to travel sickness, flight delays may be the least of your worries.  Top dermatologists, fitness trainers and medical experts have compiled a must-do survival guide to avoid a not-so-happy holiday season.

From carrying heavy luggage to long road trips, back, neck and shoulder pain and injuries are common around this time of year.  According to Dr. Michael A. Gleiber, a South Florida Board-Certified Orthopedic Spine Surgeon, causes for these injuries range from arthritis to muscle strains, and treatment varies depending on the cause.  Regardless of the reason for your back pain, traveling can be a challenge, but simple measures can greatly improve how you feel.

For many people with back pain or neck pain, the prospect of a long flight can be daunting. Sitting still for an extended time can in and of itself aggravate painful areas in the back and neck; and poor posture puts even more stress on your spine.  "Airline seats are notoriously uncomfortable, even for those without back pain," says Dr. Gleiber.  "Most seats encourage back rounding rather than proper posture. As soon as permission is given, tilt back your seat. Place a small travel pillow behind your shoulders and another behind your lower back. Get up and walk around the plane, or at least to the restroom, once every two hours."

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Free in-room Wi-Fi? Check. Chocolate mint on a pillow? Check.  Stiff back from an uncomfortable hotel bed? Check.  This past summer, Tiger Woods, the world's number one player didn't hit a full shot over the last nine holes at a golf tournament because of neck and back tightness, the result of a bad night's sleep on a hotel bed.  When sleeping in an unusual place such as a hotel or your family's guest room, travelers can take simple steps to offset their back pain. "Ask for some extra pillows at the front desk to make your rest more comfortable," advises Dr. Gleiber.   "If you need to substitute for an extra pillow, try a rolled up blanket or towel to cushion your body in the bed. When resting on your side, place a pillow between your legs and a small rolled towel at your neck. If you sleep on your back, place a small pillow beneath your knees.  And remember, try to avoid sleeping on your belly."

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Whether visiting family, looking to escape the cold, or planning to ring in the New Year in a different time zone, the winter is a great time to travel.  However, traveling puts additional stress on you and your skin. Regardless of whether you are traveling by car or plane this holiday season San Diego's board certified dermatologist Dr. Susan Stuart's must-know travel tips will help make your time away more relaxing and leave your skin well taken care of.

For Frequent Flyers

The re-circulated air on planes is five times drier than the desert and the lack of humidity causes loss of moisturizer. The air inside the cabin of a plane usually has a humidity level of 10 to 20 percent - much lower than a comfortable typical indoor humidity of 30 to 65 percent. All of which combines to equal skin desperately in need of moisture.

"Most people realize that flying can cause skin to dry out and breakout, but they may not know why," says Dr. Stuart. "Whenever the environment is moisture-free such as with recirculated air in a plane cabin - the air actually draws moisture from wherever it can, including the skin. Dry skin will tend to get drier and oily skin will get even oilier to compensate for dehydration."

Dr. Stuart recommends the following travel itinerary for your skin whether you're taking a quick weekend getaway or going for the long haul.

Un-Happy Hour: Don't Drink Alcohol on the Plane. "Alcohol is very dehydrating. While it may help to relax you if you're nervous about flying, the affect of alcohol will be dry skin," says Dr. Stuart. "Drink water, and read a magazine or book or bring along your iPod. Having something to distract you will help you as much, if not more than a glass of wine. If you just can't pass it up, drink lots of water afterward."

Bring a Hydrating Mist for In-Flight Treatment. A hydrating mist is perfect for in flight application. Dr. Stuart recommends spraying a couple of pumps onto your face for instant hydration. It also feels great and helps cool you down if you're on a warm airplane.

It's Time to Takeoff...Your Makeup! If you wear makeup, keep it to a minimum on the flight. "Airplane air is dry and can exacerbate your makeup's drying-out effects on your skin can which can lead to breakouts and your pores becoming clogged on the flight," says Dr. Stuart. "Opt for tinted moisturizer if you cannot bear not having any make-up on; and use lip balm in lieu of lipstick as the cabin air is dry lips tends to feel a little dryer while on the flight."

Ah - airport food courts, a sub-category in the American cuisine food chain.   Kiosks loaded with fatty hamburgers, doughnuts, greasy Chinese food and cinnamon rolls - oh, those warm gooey cinnamon rolls.    Rivaled only by malls and amusement parks, airport food courts are fraught with unhealthy food choices that can wreck havoc with your diet.   "Carbs and sugar alleviate stress, and airports stress people out, especially during the holidays, " says Franci Cohen, a nutritionist, exercise physiologist and fitness instructor in New York City.  "So, while it may feel good to inhale a day's worth of calories in 10 minutes, the combination of a high-sodium meal and air travel equals a very bloated body from head to toe.  You can find healthy food options at airports - you just have to look beyond the hotdog and fries."

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Franci recommends eating before you leave for the airport or packing your carry-on with fruits, veggies, and granola bars.  Also, avoid the beverage service on planes. Stick to water, you will have a happier flight and feel revived upon arriving at your destination!

Many fitness enthusiasts find it difficult to follow their normal exercise plan while traveling.   Unfamiliar environments, tightly scheduled itineraries, or lack of exercise equipment may hamper even a fitness fanatic's best intentions for staying fit while traveling.  When planning your next trip, Mike Giliotti, certified personal trainer in New York Cityoffers the following tips for putting together an exercise program that travels with you.

"If you've worked hard to establish a good fitness routine, going on a trip doesn't have to mean your healthy habits will be derailed. You can keep your momentum and endorphins flowing and maintain your fitness level when traveling."  How?

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