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With the weather getting warmer and the school year winding down, vacation planning is in full swing. If you’ve ever returned home from a vacation with a kink in your neck or a pain in the back that wasn’t there before, try these helpful tips this year to avoid some of the common pains of travel.

Getting There:
1. Move About-whether you are flying or driving to your destination, try to get up and move your legs at least every 2 hours. Sitting for prolonged periods of time shortens the hip flexors and can contribute to low back pain and stiffness. Another problem associated with prolonged sitting is the formation of blood clots. If you are not able to get up and walk around, at least try to move your legs (march in place) to increase circulation. Most airlines will have a pamphlet in the seatback pocket with some exercises you can do while seated.

2. Mind Your Carry On-when navigating through the airport terminal, be mindful of how you carry your luggage. When using a backpack, put one strap over each shoulder and walk with good posture. Messenger style bags should go across the body with the bag resting on your hip, not your knee. Small wheeled suitcases should be kept close to your body, so that your hand is near your back pocket. Try not to let it get too far away from your body where you are reaching behind or out to the side. If it’s a long terminal, switch arms to avoid shoulder fatigue.

3. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate-many people will avoid drinking before or during a flight because they don’t want to have to make trips to the bathroom. But even mild dehydration can lead to issues such as headaches, dry throat and nasal passages, muscle aches/cramps and even constipation.

4. Grab a Blanket-when you board the plane, grab a blanket. If you don’t get chilly on the flight, you can use it to support your neck in a comfortable position. I always travel with a large, lightweight wrap or pashmina in my carry on.

You’ve Arrived:
1. Toss That Pillow-hotel pillows are often very thick and firm, putting your neck out of its natural alignment. If you didn’t bring your own pillow, you might be better off sleeping without one, or folding a bath towel to a comfortable thickness. High end and boutique hotels sometimes have a “Pillow Menu” to choose from. They don’t always advertise, so don’t be afraid to ask at the front desk if they have pillow options.

2. Wear Good Shoes-if you will be lounging poolside all day, flip-flops are just fine. But if you will be out visiting tourist attractions or theme parks, walking around on concrete can literally be a pain in the butt (and hips/back) without proper support and cushion. Wear your sneakers, your back will thank you!

3. Wear Sunscreen-nothing can ruin a sun filled vacation as quickly as sunburn. Don’t forget the tops of your feet, the back of your neck and your ears.

4. Don’t Over Do It-if you haven’t exercised all winter, you might not want to hike all of Utah’s Mighty 5 in one vacation. When planning an active vacation, be sure to prepare yourself physically for the challenge in the weeks/months leading up to the trip.

5. Visit a Spa-if you read my Spa 101  post, you know that I love to get spa treatments on vacation. It’s a great way to start and/or end a trip relaxed.

Have a great vacation, and if you need me, I’ll be here when you get back!

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