Health Brief: Travel Health Tips
For those of us fortunate enough to spend time on vacation this season with family and friends, we have to remember not to take a vacation from our health. No matter if you are going abroad or staying in your own backyard, certain precautions need to be made to keep yourself out of harm’s way.
Vacation is a time for rest and relaxation, so we have taken the time to provide some easy tips to follow that will keep you safe and healthy no matter where your travels take you!
Watch What You Eat
Many of us deviate from our normal diet while on vacation and tend to indulge ourselves. In order to prevent over-indulgence, plan on set meal times and stick to them. Also, try not to snack throughout the day. Small amounts of high-calorie foods are definitely acceptable, just remember to limit the amount to just a few bites.
Drink Plenty of Water
The body is able to stay healthier when hydrated, so remember to drink a lot of water. Pay special attention to children, who become more easily dehydrated than adults. For a sustainable add-on carry around a reusable water bottle and constantly keep it filled throughout the day.
Wash Your Hands Often
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the most important way to reduce infectious disease transmission is to wash hands carefully and frequently with soap and water. When soap and water aren’t accessible, bring along some hand sanitizer to kill those unwanted germs.
Get Adequate Sleep
Aim for around eight hours of sleep a night, so that way you can enjoy your vacation without feeling groggy. In addition, focus on staying on a regular sleep schedule by going to bed at roughly the same time and waking up at the same time every day.
Pack a First Aid Kit
In the case of a small-scale emergency bring the following the items in a first aid kit along with you: bandages, sterile gauze pads, thermometer, scissors, tweezers, latex gloves, antiseptics, over-the-counter pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacid, allergy relief, and cold and cough medicine. Remember for any larger emergencies to contact a physician or go to the emergency room.
Protect Yourself from Insect Bites
Guard against an insect bite by using repellent that contains DEET. Reapply as necessary and use especially near lakes and other like bodies of water that act as breeding grounds for disease-carrying insects. In the case of a bite, there is a home remedy that can be used to reduce redness and itching. Simply mix baking soda and water to create a paste, and apply this to the bite. Malaria is a problem in some parts of the world, so make sure to contact your doctor regarding preventative measures.
Protect Yourself from the Sun
When heading to the beach or even lounging in your backyard, remember to constantly apply sunscreen to prevent sunburns or future skin cancer. Look for sunscreen of the water-resistant variety with an SPF greater than 15. Apply every two hours while in the sun, or after any physical activity that might have washed it away. Loose, flowing clothing will also protect your skin from the sun, and remember to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. However, if you do get a sunburn for some reason, there is an easy treatment. First take an ibuprofen to halt inflammation, then add a teaspoon of white vinegar to a cup of cold water and apply to the burn.
When Traveling Internationally
Always check to see if vaccines or immunizations are necessary for your travel destination. Most vaccines take time to become effective, so proper planning is necessary. If you are unsure of the safety of the water, stick to drinking bottled water and other bottled refreshments to prevent any water-borne illnesses. Lastly, check with your health insurance provider to make sure you are covered for medical care and possible medical evacuation while abroad.
Beware of Recreational Water Illnesses (RWI’s)
RWI’s can be found in swimming pools, lakes, rivers, hot tubs, and in the ocean. These illnesses can be spread by swallowing, breathing, or coming into contact with contaminated water. Look out for runoff into the body of water because of possible water pollution, which could lead to an RWI.
Traveling with a Health Condition
Carry all medications with you in your carry-on luggage; you certainly do not want to be without your medication if for some reason your bag is lost during your travels. Bring a copy of your prescriptions with you in the case of an emergency refill.
Prepare for the Plane
The first thought for many people when getting on a plane is the old, recycled air that could be riddled with disease. However, this is not the case because all of the recycled air is passed through High Efficiency Particulate Air filters at a rate faster than most homes and office buildings. One thing to be aware of however are blood clots formed from inactivity on extended flights. In order to prevent this, remember to walk around or even wear compression sleeves on your legs during long flights.
Prepare for the Drive
Nearly 91% of all summer vacation trips are fulfilled through the use of a car, so vehicle safety is a must. It is important to get a full check-up of your car, especially if traveling for long distances. This can prevent unwanted accidents and unnecessary delays. Also remember to always have a first aid kit in case of any minor accidents.
Don’t Tell Your Social Network
You might be tempted to tell everyone on Facebook that you’re headed off to a wonderful vacation, but resist the urge. There have been cases of individual’s homes being robbed while on vacation simply because someone saw their post about leaving town, on a social media site.
Keep these tips in mind while you go about your travels, and you and your family are sure to have a fun-filled, healthy vacation! And remember – if you do get sick when you’re away from home, you can always see a doctor online or over the phone through MeMD.