You’ve made your plans, confirmed your reservations, and packed your suitcase. For many people, travel is a tonic, a welcome change from routine—until someone gets sick.
Before your next trip, be sure to add a bit of wellness and prevention in your plans.
Protect yourself from germs. Vacations mean hotels, restaurants, planes and other places with lots of people confined in small spaces. Wash your hands faithfully after using the restroom and before and after eating. Hand sanitizers are good when you’re not near soap and water, but handwashing still is considered best at warding off infection. Also, don’t be afraid to wipe down an airplane seat with a disinfectant cloth. And stay at least six feet away from anyone who appears to be ill.
Stay hydrated, inside and out. Drink more water while you travel, especially when flying. Think of that splurge on bottled water as a small insurance policy. Keep lotion and lip balm in your carry-on. Saline spray is good for nasal passages—keeping mucus membranes moist creates a good barrier against unwanted germs.
Keep your tummy happy. Enjoy new and unusual dishes, but don’t overindulge with foods you don’t normally eat—that’s a sure path to an upset stomach, heartburn or worse. Mix up your meals with new and familiar foods. Also, as far as you can, take note that the food you purchase is fresh, cooked properly and served at the appropriate temperature.
Start and stay active. Exercise can help keep you well on your trips and boosts your immune system. As you can, start before you go on vacation, especially you’ve been inactive during winter months or work in an office. Then, when you travel, take opportunities for activity: take a long beach walk; swim in the hotel pool; do some hiking at a state park.
Be current with meds and vaccinations. Make sure you have an ample supply of your medications and that you’re up to date on your vaccinations, including measles, flu and tetanus. If you're traveling outside the country, it's a good idea to talk to your primary care physician or travel medicine doctor prior to your departure to find out if you should receive any immunizations to prevent infections. Some immunizations must be administered over several weeks or months. Depending on where you travel, some doctors may also recommend a follow-up appointment upon your return.
Sleep. Travel can impact your sleep in many ways: that early-morning departure for the airport; traveling across time zones; navigating and waiting at large airports; staying out late at a great, exotic restaurant or bar. Don’t neglect those zzzz’s! Listen to your body and sleep when you can. Pack ear plugs and a travel pillow for long flights or bus rides. Ask for a quiet hotel room away from the street, elevators or stairwells.
With proper planning and precautions, a vacation can be good for both the mind and body.
By Jennifer Hawke