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6 Ways to Never Get Sick on Holiday Travel

These tips will help you beat traveler's tummy, jet lag and other common woes

Traveling by air during the holidays is stressful enough with crowds and those surprise delays. No need to add swollen ankles and tummy troubles to the mix!  Stay your healthiest with these six tips:

Clumps of raw ginger, 6 Ways to Never Get Sick on Holiday Travel

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Ginger may help delay the onset of nausea before traveling.

1. Go with ginger

En español l If you're susceptible to motion sickness, taking powdered-ginger capsules right before you travel both delays the onset of nausea and helps you recover faster. In one study, in which people were spun in a motorized chair, taking up to 2,000 milligrams of ginger 20 minutes earlier kept them from getting sick for twice as long as those who took drugs.

6 Ways to Never Get Sick on Holiday Travel

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Use an app to help prevent jet lag.

2. Try an app for jet lag

You may think of jet lag as a mere inconvenience, but British scientists found that it can cause "profound disruption" to over 1,000 genes that regulate your body's clock. To help you adjust faster, several iPhone apps analyze your trip's time zones and offer ways to alter your sleep cycle. Try Entrain, Jet Lag Rooster and JetLag Genie.

6 Ways to Never Get Sick on Holiday Travel

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Reduce your risk of traveler's diarrhea by drinking bottled water.

3. Bottle up

Every year, some 10 million travelers acquire a stomach bug, so if you're traveling abroad, the rule of thumb is "Boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it," says Jenny K. Lee, M.D., an infectious disease specialist with Northwestern University in Chicago. That means eat nothing raw and drink only bottled beverages to reduce your risk of traveler's diarrhea.

6 Ways to Never Get Sick on Holiday Travel

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Make sure to bring sanitizing wipes for the plane to get rid of lingering germs.

4. Pack wipes for the plane

Wailing babies are the least of your problems when flying. A new study from Auburn University in Alabama finds that disease-causing germs can live for more than a week on surfaces that passengers typically touch. The worst is the seat pocket, but you need to wipe down your tray table and window shade, too.

6 Ways to Never Get Sick on Holiday Travel

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Flex your legs on the plane to help prevent blood clots.

5. Stretch often

Dangerous leg clots are a risk on flights longer than eight hours because of dehydration, the cabin's low oxygen and crowded seating conditions, says Omid Jazaeri, M.D., director of vascular surgery at the University of Colorado Hospital. To reduce your risk, Jazaeri suggests flexing your legs frequently and drinking plenty of water.

6 Ways to Never Get Sick on Holiday Travel


Compression socks keep blood from pooling in the ankles and calves.

6. Go chic with compression socks

Here's another way to prevent swollen ankles and those risky blood clots on long flights: Compression hose that keeps blood from pooling in the ankles and calves. These days, the New York Times reports, they've gone hip, with chic colors and fun patterns to appeal to fashion-conscious travelers. They use pressure to force the blood to flow farther up the leg. For that reason, compression hose — not to be confused with support hose — are tightest around the lower leg and less restrictive toward the knee and thigh. If you want to give the hose a try, RejuvaHealth, Vim & Vigr and BrightLifeGo are some examples of compression hosiery websites with products for both men and women.

Candy Sagon writes about health for AARP Media. See more of her health reporting on the AARP Blog.