Travel Guide (Part 1)

Whether stuck in customs or traveling by train, protecting your health starts before you plan your trip. It includes supporting the foundations of human health like sleep, exercise, nutrition, getting outdoors and many more. Without an adequate foundation, a body, much like a home, can start to crumble.

Allergies | Eye health | Healthy Eating | Immune Health

Dr. Owen Wiseman, ND

13 December 2021

As humans stretch their pandemic-restricted limbs, it's time to take to the skies, water and roads. Same-day trips and time spent exploring local towns increased as international travel was mostly grounded. This meant residents rediscovered hidden gems and local haunts that they maybe wouldn't otherwise have found. 

Everything from farmers markets and berry picking to antique shops and trails through the forest were suddenly inundated with families looking to occupy their children. On the other hand, even those looking for some breathing room from their ever-present families needed a day out of the house. While travel options continue to expand, keep these local business' in mind next time you decide how to spend your Saturday.


Arguably, the ground work starts with nutrition. You can't sleep, exercise or move about in nature if your body's fuel tank is empty. This goes for supporting our body during travel as well. You're going to be trying different foods or the same foods prepared differently, and that can strain the digestive tract. You also want to consider the risk of other infections and pathogens that you aren't normally exposed to. Supporting a strong immune system means your warriors are fed and have the resources they need to defend against fungi, viruses and bacteria.

Going down the rabbit hole of Dr. Google sees certain things rise as 'superfoods' one week before becoming the villain and the food to avoid the next. Maintaining a diverse diet ensures you meet the recommended daily allowances set by Health Canada, and it's hard to overindulge on nutrient-dense foods like kale or broccoli. The same can't be said of nibbling on that big piece of chocolate cake though!


Exercise has been shown to be as powerful as the anti-depressants on the market and combats almost every illness or disease known to humankind.

It should come as no surprise that it does this, in part, by nurturing the activity of your immune system. With many gyms closed throughout the pandemic, some people took up the mantle with at home classes while others took some time to explore other passions. The main thing is to keep moving, even a little every day to promote circulation of nutrients and removal of waste. Whether time spent in the garden, building something, dance or walking, the movement is what matters.

An easy way to determine how much movement is medicine for you, check out the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology guidelines. While you're exploring a new country or area, think about ways to incorporate movement into your vacation. Maybe it's walking along the boardwalk by the beach, joining a sunrise yoga class or heading down to the hotel gym, motion matters.


Even if you eat well and exercise regularly, sleep should not be pushed to the back burner.

Without reaching the recommended number of hours, your immune and overall health starts to suffer. As the body progresses through the varied stages of sleep including non-rapid eye movement (REM) and REM sleep, important functions occur. Tissues are repaired, proteins are synthesized, growth hormone is released into the system and events from the day are processed and moved to long term memory. While on vacation or traveling, sleep patterns can change due to being in a new environment, changing time zones, and overindulging on food and drink. Sleep debt isn't something that is easily paid back, and it often charges interest. Little micro-sleeps can be incredibly dangerous, especially when driving or operating heavy equipment.

While on vacation, we recommend you prioritize getting 7-8 hours of sleep so you can enjoy yourself, but also without returning home feeling like a complete zombie. That might include catching a few z's on the plane ride or as you travel between destinations.


It seems that every day there's another news story promoting the benefits of nature therapy, from fostering a healthy mood to reducing blood pressure.

What is important here is the ability of nature therapy, getting out for a walk in the woods or by the water can benefit immune system activity. For instance, in a trial that traded asphalt for grass and trees at a school in Finland, kids experienced large boosts. They had lower levels of IL-17A which has been linked to immune disorders. The children also had higher levels of the TGF-β1-cytokine which positively influences the immune system. Studies in adults show that walking through a forest boosts the activity of our natural killer cells, those that specifically battle tumours and viral-infected cells. More importantly, this boost lasted a week after the visit! Before you jet off on your travels, head to your destinations tourist site and check out some outdoor activities. Whether it's traversing through a rainforest, exploring ruins, sifting through a black sand beach or standing at the edge of a mountain, nature is here to support your health.

Sometimes, despite supporting each area of your overall health, symptomatic relief is still a nice option. That is where products targeting the eyes, nose and throat really come in handy. When you travel, your risk of contracting an infection increases due to the foreign nature of the pathogens and allergens. We should consider ways to support our health no matter the destination.

Now that we've established the role our foundations of health play in our travel plans, how do we protect ourselves when we're on our way to our destination?

Healthy nose function could be considered as part of a healthy foundation.

The sinus cavities and nose help to purify and filter approximately 10,000 litres of inhaled air every single day. The hair cells, formally known as cilia, help move debris and pathogens along and help to prevent bacteria from entering the deeper parts of the airway. In addition, the nasal secretions act as another trap against the invaders. The bugs can get stuck to the mucous like a fly trap, or the pathogens will try to penetrate the mucous thinking it to be tissue only to get caught. When you blow your nose, the hope is that most of these pathogens are expelled with the mucous. Think of it like your very own irrigation system!

Now despite the best efforts of your nasal passages, some particulate matter containing viruses, fungi or bacteria can make it past the first defenses within 10 to 15 minutes. At this point, they may attach to the tissue of our nose and start to replicate. Just a few of the obstacles to healthy mucosa include dry environments, congestion, allergies, inflammation, and colds & flu.

It's thought that aircraft cabins are ripe with pathogens floating around, but most modern aircraft actually use high-efficiency particular air (HEPA) filters. This removes lots of the risk associated with becoming infected by others, or infecting others yourself. Despite that, a review showed that not all airlines are actually circulating the air as often as they should, which does raise concerns and highlight the need to protect yourself.

Having options to prevent and treat these infections is key when you're traveling.

Whether to help with clogged passages, difficulty breathing or just overall dryness, there are options. As you saw earlier, supporting the foundations of health is what matters to ensure you don't get sick in the first place. This means putting in the work from the inside out. Sometimes though, quick symptomatic relief is what's needed in the moment.

Nasal sprays – enter stage right. They provide quick relief to the places that need it most and are an efficient way to transport medication or herbal relief to dry, congested or inflamed tissues. With how thin the nasal mucosa is, the remedy is quickly absorbed.

Pharmaceutical-based nasal sprays including decongestants, antihistamines, steroid and saline sprays can be incredibly effective but carry certain risks you may not know about. For example, certain nasal sprays contain the preservative benzalkonium chloride, also known as BKC. Various studies have demonstrated that it can actually shut down the activity of the nasal cilia. These are those hair cells mentioned earlier that actually move mucous and pathogens around, preventing them from entering our airways. Steroid sprays might cause any number of side effects including burning or stinging of the tissue, irritation in the throat, headaches, nausea and even nosebleeds. Finally, there is a risk of developing a condition known as rhinitis medicamentosa. This is nasal inflammation as a result of the overuse of the medicated nasal spray, one that often creates a cycle of dependence.

All of this inflammation and irritation makes you more prone to developing infections as the pathogens have an easier time slipping through the cell's defenses. This is why individuals need to follow the instructions of their primary care providers or the dose on the product. Many of which may list warnings against prolonged use of even three days max.

This is where travel-sized options to combat any type of nose related symptoms can be useful. Let's take a peek at some of the options depending on the area you're visiting.

  • Dry Nose Relief. Countries that experience low humidity levels, often those closer to the equator, can lead to dry nasal tissues. Those cracked and dried tissues are easily bypassed by different pathogens that can enter the deeper layers of the dermis. This lets them access the blood vessels and even circulate to other parts of the body where the infection can become more serious. As a combination of moisturizing hyaluronic acid, soothing anti-inflammatory chamomile and saline, Dry Nose Relief is the answer to our dry nose woes.
  • Sinna. While the goal is to focus on treating the root cause of your nose concerns, sometimes symptom relief is the thing to invest in. A clinical trial conducted in 2003 demonstrated symptomatic relief in 67% of the 81 participants suffering from chronic sinusitis. This inflammation of the nasal passages can be soothed by the ingredients contained in this nasal spray and acute symptoms were reduced by 75%. Think Sinna for Sinusitis.
  • Allergy Relief. This homeopathic preparation utilizes plants from a variety of families to help educate the immune system. As we know, allergies are an inappropriate reaction of the body to harmless allergens that are leading to symptoms such as rash. A clinical trial conducted on humans in the Netherlands demonstrated that use of the product resulted in an 88.5% improvement in symptoms of allergies, especially in congestion. The benefit is that it comes in a nasal spray, protecting the mucous membranes of the nose and also comes in tabs to work from the inside out.

Any of these nasal sprays can support you on the long flight. Perhaps your nose gets more dry with the recycled air, maybe it starts to run, or maybe you battle congestion. The Dry Nose Relief, Allergy Relief and Sinna sprays can combat those respective symptoms.

We know the nose isn't the only site of possible infection though.

Breathing in through our mouth presents similar challenges to those outlined as we talked about the wonders of the nasal passages. When inhaled, certain respiratory droplets containing pathogens can bypass those nasal defenses and reach the deeper parts of the lung.

Consider tuberculosis for instance where a single microorganism can be enough to create a life-threatening condition. A systematic review from 2010 outlined several instances of a TB exposure that was linked back to a long-haul flight, over 8 hours. While the risk was low, and none of these exposures analyzed turned into an active TB infection, there is always the risk to consider, especially when visiting endemic countries.

What about something arguably more common than TB, like influenza?

While the spread is usually well-managed with public health measures like hand washing and using disinfectant, it may not be enough. Pilots and flight crew routinely fly while ill, and this creates points of contact by the handling of food and drink where travelers can acquire these infections. Clinically-proven products like Sore Throat Spray can be used to create a barrier on the back of the throat where many pathogens like to replicate. In a multicentre, randomized, double-blind, double-dummy controlled trial with 154 adults, Sore Throat Spray went head-to-head with a pharmaceutical throat spray made of lidocaine and chlorhexidine. The herbal spray was shown to be as effective as the pharmaceutical spray in treating acute sore throats, measured using the Tonsillopharyngitis Severity Score.

There is still one more area putting you at risk of infection that might surprise you – your eyes.

Like any tissue, they are vulnerable to infection. To give you a bit more perspective, consider that the toxins in cigarette smoke can impact blood flow in the capillaries that supply the eyes. In a study on those with healthy eye tissue, using a heated eyebag improved the thickness of their ocular film lipid layer.

A dry air cabin does the opposite of the teabag, wicking moisture from the delicate tissues of the eyes, leaving them more prone to inflammation and infection. Replenishing the moisture is easy with Eye Drops, owing to the hyaluronic acid it contains. Hyaluronic acid is naturally found in the vitreous humour of the eye. No surprise when you consider its incredibly lubricating and antibacterial properties. The herbal compound contained in the product is known as eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) and provides anti-inflammatory and also anti-bacterial benefits. The best part is, while other eye drops need to be thrown out after a couple of weeks, this preservative-free option lasts six months from the time of opening.

In part two of our helpful travel guide, we'll explore digestive health, the keys to a stress-free vacation and how to keep your health fueled as you soak up the sun.

A.Vogel Dry Nose Relief Nasal Spray

Dry Nose Relief


Helps relieve nasal discomfort (itching, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, mucus buildup) by …
More info

A.Vogel Eye Drops

Eye drops


For relief of extremely dry, irritated or tired eyes.
More info

A.Vogel Sinna® Nasal Spray

A.Vogel Sinna® Nasal Spray


Homeopathic remedy used for acute and chronic sinusitis, sinus congestion and inflammation with …
More info

Alfred Vogel's guide to leading a healthy and happy life

Nature is just about the best thing we’ve got!

Watch the video


Become a member, discover our offers in preview, follow our news and enjoy a 10% discount on your 1st order!