This year I’m spending the holidays in Futaleufu, Chile. Futaleufu is a small traditional Chilean town nestled in the mountains of Patagonia (they got their first gas station 3 years ago). It is famous among river lovers across the world for some of the best and most intense whitewater around. Getting to Futaleufu, however might be just as challenging as paddling the class V rapids. It took me 36 hours, 6 airports, 4 planes, and 2 border crossings. It was A LOT of traveling, and I was definitely not about to spend my time in Chile in a bed sick with whatever the person next to me had. You work hard for your time off and I don’t want it to be ruined because you got sick while you were traveling. While I can’t help you deal with the crying baby next to you, I can give you some ways to try and boost your immunity and avoid being a snotty, coughing mess on your vacation.


Take Astragalus as a preventive measure. Astragalus, also known as Huang Qi, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. It is used to ward off colds and the flu by strengthening the immune system. Astragalus is considered to be an adaptogen; adaptogens are natural substances, mainly herbs, which help the body deal with stress and disease and get back in balance (homeostasis). Taking astragalus before traveling can help to boost your immune system and protect you from getting sick. Buy capsules of standardized extracts of this herb and take 1 or 2 twice or a day or as the label directs. You can take astragalus long-term, for example, throughout your travels or for the entire cold and flu season.


Watch what you touch. We all know how germ theory works right? Don’t touch washroom fixtures directly, such as door handles or faucets. Use a coat sleeve, or tissue instead. And avoid touching your face when you’re out and about, especially after being in the restroom.


Drink your water. I am the queen of not drinking water when I fly, so I get that this is harder than it seems. Flying dehydrates your body because of the high elevation. Being dehydrated dries out the mucus membranes in your throat and nose, which prevents bacteria and viruses from being flushed out of your system. Try bringing and empty water bottle with you and fill it up before each flight; Extra points for drinking water on the plane instead of soda.


Use Ayr saline nasal gel. This keeps your nasal passage moist, which helps block any nasty germs from getting a foothold there. Follow the directions on the tube. You can also try applying a small amount of Vaseline or even Neosporin to the inside of your nostrils.


I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your holidays filled with cookies and cheer. What are you doing for the holidays? Let me know in the comments below!