Traveling is good for your health. It can take you away from the stressors of everyday life, give your brain a chance to reset and even improve brain health thanks to stimulating new experiences. Travel can boost your mood and give you much needed social time. Unfortunately, it can also mean long travel days, jet lag that snags sleep and a slip in our usual healthy diet.   

Want to gain the benefits of travel without sacrificing your health? You can still do it!

Here’s how to stay healthy while traveling:   

Wash your hands  

Click on the picture to see the rest of the steps recommended by the World Health Organization

The simplest and most effective way to stay healthy while at home or abroad is to wash your hands often and thoroughly. Our biggest problem seems to be the latter; Most people don’t adequately wash their hands, according to the World Health Organization. Be sure to use clean, running water, plenty of soap, and wash for at least 20 seconds on the palm, back, and between the fingers of each hand. After, air dry or dry with a clean towel. While traveling, be sure to always wash your hands before eating, and if that’s not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Be sure to rub sanitizer on the palm, back, and between the fingers of each hand.  

Try to keep your normal sleep schedule  

Traveling can be physically demanding. You upset your routine by carrying luggage, walking all day, and maybe even crossing time zones – it can be harsh on your body! One of the most important things you can do while traveling is to make sure you get plenty of sleep. If you don’t normally go to sleep in the wee hours of the night, don’t do it while traveling either. With early morning wake-up times, odd hours, and jet lag, it can be hard, but there are some workarounds. Fight jet lag with a brisk walk in the sun – daylight is one of the best ways to reset your body clock – and if that fails, simply listen to your body. Perhaps the time change means you just need that post-lunch siesta. That’s part of vacation too!  

Move your body

a bike in front of a flower shop. Touring by bike is a great way to stay healthy while traveling

Working out while traveling is an excellent way to stay in shape, stick to your routine, and combat jet lag. It’s also far more difficult to plan and motivate. Though many hotels throughout the world have gyms and there are plenty of exercises and online workout videos you can follow in your room, it’s hard to justify time out of a busy travel day to work out. If you’re able to do it – good for you! If not, consider that in most destinations in the world, like Italy, you’ll be exploring all day. This means walking the streets, strolling in parks, and standing for hours while touring museums and churches and theaters. One good thing about exploring a new city is that you’re sure to keep moving! You can also schedule exercise into your trip with a hike, walking tour, or bike tour to get moving while sightseeing.    

Indulge – but only once a day  

Most people want to indulge and experience the local food while traveling – it is vacation after all! You can absolutely, have fun and enjoy some of the local fare, but you can avoid indigestion, constipation, diarrhea and other stomach issues by sticking as closely as possible to your regular diet.     

Try getting healthy snacks at a local market or grocery store to keep hunger and temptation at bay, and then consider indulging in that big plate of pasta or that three-scoop gelato just once a day, rather than at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. “One treat a day feels special and pleasurable,” says registered dietician Keri Glassman, “overdoing it, on the other hand, isn’t as enjoyable and leads to low energy and poor sleep.”    

As always, if you have any food allergies or dietary restrictions, be sure to prepare beforehand. Study up on your destination’s local foods and consider getting a translated card explaining any allergies if you’re worried about language issues.   

Hydrate, enjoy wine, and skip the hard stuff 

A changed routine and constant motion can make it difficult to drink enough water, but keeping hydrated will help combat dehydration, hunger, stomach issues, and even jet lag.   

grapes picked and crated in the vineyard 

For this reason, make sure to drink lots of water, and consider limiting your alcohol consumption to reduce dehydration and travel fatigue. While in Italy you are sure to want to try some of the many wonderful local wines the country has to offer, so consider sticking to wine and beer and skipping hard liquor. A glass of wine is an essential part of the local culture and a popular and fun activity for visitors, so enjoy that vineyard tour and wine tasting, but make sure to stay hydrated as well! 

Check stress at the door  

Vacation or travel is a great time to slow down. Stop to appreciate your surroundings, try spending some time away from technology, and look to connect back with your analog nature. Read the local newspaper or a book, and focus on your travel partners and the new experiences you’re enjoying. Leave the stress of work at home.   

That said, we know that a lot of the stress of travel comes from the travel itself. Prepare yourself ahead of time for a seamless trip, try to let go of the travel hiccups you can’t control, and find what you need in order to travel without stress. Or, go for a completely stress-free trip by hiring a travel company and letting them take care of everything for you! At Ciao Andiamo, we love crafting Italy adventures through local eyes, and we can arrange hotels, excursions, and transfers, personalized for you. Contact us to see how we can make your dream trip to Italy come to life! 

Bring a smart first-aid kit  

Much of the basic medicine available throughout the world is the same, but why not cut the stress and bring your own basic first aid kit for any minor aches or illnesses? A first-aid kit can have all the usual – bandages, sunscreen, an antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin, a thermometer and cold relief medication – as well as medicines for harsher eventualities, including diarrhea, constipation or motion sickness. Like we said, all of these are things that you can find in nearly any pharmacy in the world, but it’s so much more convenient to have them on hand right when you need it. Check out the CDC’s Pack Smart Checklist to help you prepare the best medicine travel kit for your trip.    

Consider travel insurance  

Finally, cover yourself against any possibilities or eventualities with good travel insurance. Most travel insurance should include emergency medical assistance, medicines and hospital costs, surgery and dental treatments, and urgent medical treatment for accidents, but make sure to choose one that also has emergency evacuation, legal coverage, and repatriation in case of serious illness or accident. The odds that you’ll have an accident or fall severely ill on a trip are low, but why not buy some peace of mind for your next trip with good medical coverage abroad? Details matter, so pay close attention to the specific policies if you choose to book!

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Starting in 2021, non-EU citizens will be required to obtain travel authorization to enter the Schengen Area. 

But don’t worry – it’s not a visa, it’s inexpensive and as easy as a 20-minute online application form!

Not happy about the changes? We understand. Traveling can already feel daunting at times and even more so with even more bureaucracy to navigate, so let us help you.

Read on to figure out about the ETIAS is and what it means to you:

Do I need a visa to travel to Europe?

No, Americans (along with many other countries) still don’t need a visa to travel to Europe Union countries for less than 90 days. 

Americans, Canadians, New Zealanders, Australians and citizens from roughly 60 other countries will, however, need a special authorization to enter and travel in the Schengen Area. The authorization is called ETIAS and you can apply for it online.

If you have a passport of an EU member country, you will not need an ETIAS as long as you travel on that EU passport.

What is ETIAS and why do I need it?

ETIAS stands for the EU Travel and Authorization System. It is a completely electronic pre-screening and registration process that permits and keeps track of visitors from countries who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Area.

It serves as a way for the European Union to gather information on travelers who currently come to the continent visa-free and strengthen security in across control-free borders.

These types of systems are in place to identify security concerns before travel to the Schengen Area and not in the passport control line, thus saving travelers time and hassle. It is also designed to improve border management, prevent irregular or illegal immigration and fight against crime and terrorism.

The United States issued a similar travel authorization system called the ESTA shortly after the September 11th terrorist attacks to improve border security and Canada has a version called the eTA.

The difference between the ETIAS and the US ESTA is that the latter pre-screens anyone traveling to the United States whereas the ETIAS pre-screens only visa-exempt travelers who wish to enter the Schengen Area.

What is the difference between the European Union and the Schengen Area?

The European Union is a union between 28 member states in Europe. Note: the EU is not synonymous with “Europe” as a continent. 

Schengen countries are European countries that have signed the Schengen Agreement. Currently there are 26 countries: all the EU countries except the United Kingdom and Ireland and an addition of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein, which are not EU member states. These countries have no internal border controls between them.

The European Union is a political and economic union. The Schengen Agreement allows for the free movement between participating countries.

How is ETIAS different from a visa?

A visa is a much more complicated process that involves photos, itineraries and financial proof that you can support your travels while abroad. Americans only need a visa to travel in the EU if they are planning to stay longer than 90 days.

To compare: the visa process may take months and isn’t guaranteed to end in success. My Italian husband who needed an ESTA travel authorization to travel to the United States filled out the form on his smartphone while at the airport and 15-minutes later was checked-in and on his way to the gate. Though we don’t recommend you book any travel before applying for the ETIAS, it is likely to be a very rapid process that is over in minutes if approved.

How do I apply?

To apply for an ETIAS travel authorization you’ll need a valid passport that doesn’t expire within three months, a credit or debit card and an email address. 

The online form allows twenty minutes to fill out the application with basic demographic information as well as your country of entry and contact information. You’ll also have to answer a few background and security questions. Follow the prompts and answer honestly – your application is cross-referenced against European border security and criminal databases.

Note that for the ETIAS to work, you have to enter into the country that you stated. Even if your plan is to visit seven different Schengen Area countries, if you state on your application that the first country you will visit is Italy, you must enter Europe through Italy.

If there are no problems, then you’ll receive an email with your authorization in minutes.

Your ETIAS authorization is valid for three years. After that, you’ll have to go through the process again for a new authorization.

They are still implementing parts of the system and the application is expected to open closer to 2021.

Now that you know how easy it is to get an ETIAS travel authorization, contact us today about our full-service, expertly crafted journeys to Italy!

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