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Hard-traveling editor-in-chief Matt Bean details how he stays healthy in spite of a punishing winter travel schedule

Matt Bean  – December 17, 2019 | Updated December 19, 2019

This was my first full year of living in the West, and I feasted on my proximity to its riches, committing to a full-immersion course of exploration. I’ve always been a traveler, but this felt like playing pinball on half the playing field: Twice as much action, twice as fast. I was on a plane almost every week—sometimes three flights per week. I bounced back and forth from San Francisco to Los Angeles on hour-long commuter flights more than I can remember and hit a handful of cities several times: San Diego, Denver, Seattle, Portland, Park City, Jackson Hole, and so many more. On top of that, my constant ping-ponging back to the East Coast meant there wasn’t a moment I felt stationary, calm, or comfortable. So many early mornings and late nights; so much merino wool. I’m now an expert at sink-washing gym clothes, and I’ve identified the PERFECT luggage and refillable titanium water bottle

This was my first full year of living in the West, and I feasted on my proximity to its riches, committing to a full-immersion course of exploration. I’ve always been a traveler, but this felt like playing pinball on half the playing field: Twice as much action, twice as fast. I was on a plane almost every week—sometimes three flights per week. I bounced back and forth from San Francisco to Los Angeles on hour-long commuter flights more than I can remember and hit a handful of cities several times: San Diego, Denver, Seattle, Portland, Park City, Jackson Hole, and so many more. On top of that, my constant ping-ponging back to the East Coast meant there wasn’t a moment I felt stationary, calm, or comfortable. So many early mornings and late nights; so much merino wool. I’m now an expert at sink-washing gym clothes, and I’ve identified the perfect carry-on, ideal backpack, and favorite refillable titanium water bottle

Tricks for Staying Healthy

But despite it all—not one cold. Not one cough. This isn’t normal for me. One explanation is that I’ve simply amassed such a robust personal mirror of the country’s airborne biodiversity that I’m now immune to most common ailments, the immunological Wolverine. A more likely explanation is that I’ve got a regimen, and I stick to it. Cold-pressing ginger and lemon shots with a sprinkling of Cayenne pepper the morning of a flight, or substituting a hot toddy of lemon/ginger/cinnamon. Power hydrating: a bottle when I get up; a bottle on the way to the airport; a bottle on the way to the plane; and an aisle seat for obvious reasons. Quick bursts of 15 minutes of fitness on the treadmill or Peloton to clear the sinuses the day after a trip—to get out all of the microbial flora and fauna I’ve collected along the way. Meticulous hand-washing skills and a paranoiac’s avoidance of hotel remotes and other proven germ-collectors. And sleep, as much of it as possible. I’m also prone to travel stress more than most; counterprogramming my travel to avoid rush hour has helped me somehow settle into enjoying the experience rather than dreading it. Traffic in LA and New York might be my own version of Hell, but Dante’s Inferno is kept to a low simmer at 5 in the morning or 10:30 at night. You’re smart enough to have invested in TSA Precheck, or Clear, so I’ve left mentioning that for last. Seriously, why wait in line any longer than you need to?

Whether all of that amounted to improved personal health I can’t tell you. But surprisingly, I felt normal amidst the crush of travel. Locking down my own personal regimen meant everything—packing, checking in, unpacking and repacking—was that much less stressful. And among all of the factors behind illness you can control—the guy behind you spraying spittle with every cough; the chill of the slopes; the feeble meals in coach class—it’s stress that you alone can (mostly) control.

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