Whether you’re going away on a family vacation or on a business trip, your travel likely took you quite a bit of planning. You booked your flight, your hotel accommodations, and maybe even reserved a spot at that one restaurant that takes forever to secure. But the one thing you didn’t plan on is getting sick.
We know that there’s nothing worse than a holiday cut short by illness. You may have even experienced it yourself or had a travel partner confined to their room due to fever that sprung up out of nowhere. The vacation high you were riding is gone and you’re left dealing with frustration, a potential mess, or a massive medical bill.
There are many reasons why people get sick while traveling, but there are even more ways to stay safe on your trip. We put together a list of tips that you can use to stay healthy while traveling.
Traveling Tip #1 – Make the unknown known, plan ahead
We don’t mean you should plan to get sick. On the contrary, take care to eliminate the possibility of getting sick.
One way to do this is to consult with a travel doctor before your journey. A travel doctor will be familiar with health conditions around the world and what precautions you should take before you travel. If there are any vaccines or travel medicines that you can take, a travel doctor will inform you of them. Some countries will require travelers to be immunized against certain illnesses and you can be turned away at the border if you do not have proof of immunization.
Another way to be prepared is to bring some supplies with you. There are a few basics that any travel first aid kit should include such as bandaids, alcohol wipes, and over the counter pain and allergy medicine. Then there are a few things that you should include depending on your destination. Don’t underestimate those pesky mosquitos and the sun. Heat stroke and sunburns are part of the conversation, so be sure to pack sunscreen (and wear it!) when traveling to sunny places. Mosquitos will hate you for it, but spraying bug repellant will make you less appetizing to the parasite spreading pests. There are even some over the counter antimalarials available across the US.
Traveling Tip #2 – Get acclimated and keep a routine
This can be a tough one, especially when you travel across time zones. Jet lag and new schedules make it difficult to stay healthy, even if you keep a fit lifestyle at home. One way to minimize the damaging effects of long distance travel is planning your trip with an extra travel day. If you can tack an extra day onto your travel, you will give yourself an opportunity to climb into bed early or sleep in without cutting into the fun activities (or work; sorry) that you have planned. Getting enough sleep is important to maintain your immune system and reduce stress related impact on your health.
Once you’ve caught up on the appropriate amount of sleep, try to keep your body moving. This is especially true for those of us who travel for business. It’s easy to neglect exercise when we’re rushing to meetings or cooped up in a hotel room putting the finishing touches on a presentation to the leadership team. You already know that a sedentary lifestyle contributes to poor health and travel is no reason to slack on exercise. Make use of your hotel gym or go for a brisk walk around the neighborhood. It doesn’t take a lot of effort, but it will increase your circulation and keep you energized.
One more thing to keep track of is eating on a schedule. Vacationers have a habit of getting caught up in the fun itinerary they have planned and forgetting that they need to eat. Avoid getting hangry and grabbing the first thing you see and plan your meal times as often as you can. Your travel companions won’t need to meet the hunger monster and you’ll be able to enjoy a meal as opposed to eating the closest edible thing to you.
Traveling Tip #3 – Watch what you eat
Speaking of eating right, travel adventures can be hard on your stomach if you don’t watch what you eat. Sure, that street meat looks absolutely appetizing. But it might also put you out of commission for the rest of your trip. The fact is that new diets are a common culprit of travel sicknesses. Be sure to follow our advice to help avoid foodborne sickness like e.coli, salmonella, and norovirus.
Water quality doesn’t just vary country to country, but also town to town. There are even places in the United States that don’t have proper drinking water. When traveling, stick to bottled water when you can and skip the ice cubes in juices and cocktails. If you want to go the extra mile, eat your veggies cooked rather than raw as they may have been washed in questionable water.