Maybe you’re in a car, far from the next rest stop. Perhaps you’re on a plane waiting for the drink cart to come around, or you’re marveling at the inflated price of a water bottle from your hotel mini bar. Maybe your exotic destination has the words “Don’t drink the water” ringing in your head.
Staying properly hydrated during travel isn’t always easy, but it is important. And dehydration often goes unnoticed. You might feel fatigued, headachy, cranky or like you’re coming down with something when, in reality, you may just need a glass of water.
“That’s always the first thing to try,” said Dr. Amaka Eneanya, a kidney specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital. “A lot of people don’t recognize that bad feeling that they have is really dehydration.”
Eneanya recommends bringing water on the plane and in the car, and advocates stocking up on bottled water when you reach your destination – especially if you’re traveling someplace where water quality is questionable.
“I travel quite a bit. I always buy water in areas where water may be unsafe to drink,” she said. “I have a few bottles in my hotel room. If I am out and about all day I will bring them with me.”
Nothing beats plain water when it comes to hydration.
“You’re made up of water, not coconut water, not some sports drink,” said Eneanya, who advises drinking caffeinated drinks (like coffee, tea and soda) and alcohol only in moderation.
If your travel schedule makes you forget to drink regularly, consider using a reminder app. Try the utilitarian “Daily Water,” or maybe “Plant Nanny,” which pairs reminders to drink your water with the care of a cute virtual plant. Both are free.
Eating fruits and vegetables – especially watermelon, strawberries, oranges, lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes – will also help hydrate you. But if you have trouble with some foods – for example, spicy foods or dairy – avoid those, because diarrhea will make your body lose water.
Salty snacks, on the other hand, won’t.
“The human body is very tightly regulated in terms of salt and water balance,” Eneanya said. “So if you eat a lot of salt, you then become thirsty and drink more water.”
Carry water, drink plenty and you’re sure to feel better wherever you roam.