Your Holiday Travel Survival Guide

By Bonnie Jenkins, Advanced Natural Wellness

I hate traveling during the holidays. The freeways are jammed and plane trips are no joy ride. But sometimes you have to go, in spite of the hassel. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to make your trip more pleasurable. Here are some of my favorites:

Keep That Blood Flowing

If you are flying, remember that typical cabin air is extremely dry, so wear lip balm and drink plenty of water. Don’t worry about the extra bathroom trips; it’s good for your circulation to get up at least once an hour since the combination of dehydration and cramped seating can result in blood pooling in the legs. This can trigger the formation of blood clots—a condition called deep vein thrombosis or simply DVT. The longer the flight, the greater the risk.

To reduce your risk, take a stroll to the bathroom or around the cabin every hour or so, and do some simple stretches while in your seat. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Try a few sets of ankle circles, alternate foot and knee lifts, and bring your knees to your chest. If you’re driving, make sure to stop every hour or so. Stretch and walk around for at least five minutes to get your blood flowing.

If you suffer from atherosclerosis or are at high risk of blood clots during long drives or flights, you might consider trying the supplement nattokinase, which is derived from the popular Japanese soy food natto. Nattokinase can literally dissolve blood clots. Here’s how it works: The body uses a specific enzyme known as plasmin to melt away blot clots. Nattokinase acts like plasmin in the body, breaking down the fibrin strands that hold blood clots together.

Pine bark extract—commonly sold under the name Pycnogenol—is another option. Clinical tests have shown that Pycnogenol is 50 times more potent than vitamin E and 20 times more effective than vitamin C. It’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that can thin the blood, making it particularly useful for preventing DVT. Taking 100 mg. of Pycnogenol just before making your journey is probably sufficient to protect most people from DVT. But if you are at high risk, you just might want to begin taking it up to a week before your trip to “prime” your arteries.

Fuel Up Wisely

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If you plan to be on the road for hours, it’s also smart to pack your own healthy food in a cooler. Not only will this save you from greasy burgers and sugary sodas along the way, you’ll also be able to bypass crowded roadside restaurants and convenience stores.

If you are flying, bringing food from home may not be an option. Instead, purchase food after you have gone through securtiy. You can often find relatively healthy sandwiches, salads or fruit and cheese plates at the smaller coffee stands and food vendors located throughout the terminal. Bring the food on the plane with you so you don’t have to suffer with a diet of on-board peanuts and pretzels.

Finally, if you are traveling across time zones, plan ahead for jet lag. Once you get to your destination, take 1 to 3 mg. of melatonin about one hour before bedtime. It should help get your sleep schedule back in sync. Safe travels!


References:

Belcaro G, et al. Prevention of venous thrombosis and thrombophlebitis in long-haul flights with pycnogenol. Clinincal and Applied Thrombosis/Hemostatsis. 2004;10:373-377.

Cesarone MR, et al. Prevention of venous thrombosis in long-haul flights with Flite Tabs: the LONFLIT-FLITE randomized, controlled trial. Angiology. 2003;54:531-539.

Srinivasan V, et al. Jet lag: therapeutic use of melatonin and possible application of melatonin analogs. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease. 2008;6:17-28

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