It must be said: getting sick before, during, or immediately after traveling is on everyone’s mind right now. Even before the recent outbreak of the coronavirus, we all worried about contacting some weird, exotic, unknown (and possibly incurable?!?!) disease the minute we left the safety of our homes! Okay, we know not to drink the water … but should we use that strange stuff coming out of the faucet to brush our teeth? Wash our face? Shower in (don’t open your mouth!). Perhaps we should pack a gallon of hand sanitizer? It’s easy to begin to look, sound and act like Adrian Monk – and that can really put a damper on enjoying your next vacation.
So, let’s break it down and look at what you should (and should not) do while traveling – as well as a few preventative tips to take before you leave home!
Let’s start with doing everything we can to stay healthy before we begin our vacation.
Depending on when you travel, you might be exposed to winter illnesses (such as the flu or even a yucky cold), or one of your co-workers may have brought a brutal stomach virus to work to share with everyone. Be on the look-out during the weeks before your travel: if you, or anyone you meet, has headaches, muscle aches or a gurgling tummy, you want to take serious precautions. Runny noses, sore throats and a cough can single that you’re about to get sick. Stay clear of anyone exhibiting these symptoms.
If YOU are feeling the symptoms of an impending illness, there are things you can do to send it packing. DRINK WATER! It sounds simplistic but it’s really the easiest and most important thing you can do. Stay hydrated and stay clear of alcohol and the son – both which will work against your body’s attempt to avoid dehydration.
Again, this may sound simplistic but BE GOOD TO YOURSELF! When you realize you’re getting sick, start taking it easy. Your body needs rest to heal. If you start feeling ill before your vacation begins, do whatever you can to get some rest. If the bug starts attacking while you’re traveling, hole up in your hotel room or cruise cabin and SLEEP! Your body will thank you for it! Doctors recommend taking hot showers as well – it will help clear your sinuses. And drinking hot tea to sooth your throat and help you sleep isn’t just an old-wives tale! You’ll be glad you slowed down a little so you can enjoy your vacation!
If you start feeling sick while traveling and the tips above don’t help, don’t worry. Hotels and cruise ships have doctors on call. It’s worth making a quick visit – the doctor may be able to give you medications that will help you feel better quickly and shorten the time you’re sick. If you’re on land and really feel sick, do not hesitate to go to the local emergency clinic/room!
Watch what you eat when you’re beginning to get sick, whether still at home or during your travels. Stick with bland foods, avoid raw foods and dairy. Think plain rice, pasta or broth. If room service doesn’t provide a healthy choice and you’re at a hotel, check out local delivery options (the hotel concierge can help!). Onboard a ship, a call to room service is all that’s needed.
I’m one of those people who seldom get sick – but I still make sure I take an extra dose or two of Vitamin C to help boost my immune system before, and during, travel. You’re not just making new friends and seeing new places when you travel: you’re also coming face-to-face with new germs and bacteria.
And be sure to pack your insurance card (or a copy of that information) just to be safe. I’ve also made sure I carry a list of all my prescriptions, the name and phone number of my primary physician and my Health Care Surrogate Designation when I travel – it’s all tucked neatly in my passport holder! If you’re traveling to a new town (and especially overseas), you might want to check out and record important emergency numbers, reputable urgent care centers and hospitals that are top rated near where you’re stay and add those notes to your medical list. It never hurts!
One of the things I learned years ago is to pack a small first aid/emergency kit when I travel. I keep this in my suitcase (updating items periodically so nothing expires) – that way, I’m unlikely to forget it! My kid includes both ibuprofen and acetophenone, Pepto Bismol tablets, Vitamin C supplements, Imodium, hand sanitizer, Lysol wipes, and a broad-spectrum antibiotic (such as a Z-pack). I also include band-aides, gauze, Neosporin, cortisone cream, and Lavender essential oil (best bug repellent ever!). You might think “I’ll save space and only buy what I need when I need it” – but beware! Finding some of these items outside of major cities or in a foreign country can be challenging. Purchasing them at the hotel or cruise ship shop is expensive! And it’s always better to know you have them when you need them! The last thing you need is to have to FIND emergency items when you’re feeling cruddy!
Here’s one last tip to help you stay healthy for your next trip: take a probiotic regularly. It will help beef up your immune system. An ounce of prevention, right?
Here’s wishing you many HEALTHY travel days!
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