Adjusting to High Altitude -- Tips for a Smooth Transition

So you're planning a trip to the Colorado mountains--welcome to our favorite place in the whole entire world! There is so much to see and do here in Summit County, you might feel like you want to jam as much into your time here as possible. But take it easy at first and give yourself a chance to adjust if you aren't accustomed to the higher altitude.

View from the top of Breckenridge Peak 6 at 12,300 feet

View from the top of Breckenridge Peak 6 at 12,300 feet

The 9,000+feet altitude is no joke here in Frisco, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and the surrounding area. Even visitors from the Mile High City of Denver often feel the effects. Adjusting for the difference in altitude should be taken be very seriously. People who fail to do this sometimes add an unexpected trip to the hospital to their itinerary. But most people can prevent unpleasant effects by taking a few precautions. Here are a few tips that we believe will foster a smooth adjustment and make your trip an enjoyable one, allowing you to focus on the beauty and adventure of Colorado.

Water, water, WATER

The first and foremost rule when adjusting to a higher altitude is to stay fully hydrated. You'll want to drink WAY more water than normal, and make sure to drink water before you feel thirsty. Increasing fluids such as water and Gatorade, while avoiding or limiting caffeine and alcohol, especially for the first few days of your trip, can help your body adjust to the altitude change. 

Rest, rest, REST

One of the most important factors in successfully managing a change in altitude is a proper amount of rest. Travel can be exhausting anyway, and your body will work harder to adjust to the higher altitude, and will therefore require more rest. So prepare for each day by getting a good night's sleep, and allow a day or two extra at the beginning of your trip for some extra shut-eye.

The Importance of Iron

Before leaving home, consider speaking with your doctor about increasing your iron intake. While too much iron is toxic, the right amount can really help when it comes to increasing your stamina for sight-seeing and activities you're planning.

Break out the CARBS!

This is not the time to worry about your carb count. Consider the altitude adjustment an excuse to eat more carbs. Not only will the increased carbs help you make better use of the oxygen, but it will also give you that energy boost you might need for the first few days.

Use the Buddy System

Finally, it is important for you and your traveling companions to know what to look for when it comes to altitude sickness so that you can watch out for one another. This is especially important if you are planning to do any snow sports, hiking, climbing, or other outdoor activities. Some of the signs of altitude sickness are dizziness, lightheadedness, headaches, nausea/vomiting and fatigue.

In short, what all of this advice really boils down to is moderation in everything (except water--go crazy with your water intake). Make moderation your motto for the first few days of the trip, and allow your body to show you its needs and limits in regards to rest and hydration, as well as exercise and activity.  A few days of slowly easing into the vacation will benefit you in the long run, and help make this your best vacation yet!