Ice storms, huge snowfalls, weather cold enough for Arctic owls…with the winter we’re having, a trip somewhere warm – or at least somewhere with epic skiing – for spring break sounds like heaven. But it can quickly turn sour if you encounter health problems along the way, whether it’s a flu you’ve picked up on the plane, Montezuma’s revenge or something even more serious.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to ensure you stay healthy while travelling and at your destination, and most of them are simply a matter of a bit of extra time and planning. That may sound impossible when you’re trying to cram everything in before your vacation, but we promise it’s worth it to enjoy your spring travel worry free.
Here are four key areas to pay attention to for healthy spring-break travel, with lots of tips that will help you have an amazing–and illness free–vacation.
Check on Vaccinations
You’ve likely heard about the ongoing measles outbreak in the United States and Canada–one that began at Disneyland, highlighting how even destinations in our own countries can be a source of illness. California health officials are now advising travelers to ensure they are up to date on measles vaccinations before taking any trips this spring. It’s also important to check if there are vaccinations you need to ensure your safety in destinations outside the country. A visit to your doctor now can save you a lot of trouble (and expense) later, particularly if you’re traveling somewhere where the health-care system is limited.
The Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, provides information on which vaccinations are recommended for your destination, and your physician can do a blood check to test your immunity if you aren’t certain which vaccines you’ve received.
Put Together Your Travel Health Kit
Do you take a prescription medication? Make sure you’re stocked up before you leave for vacation. If there is an over-the-counter product you use often, have that ready to pack as well; it may not be OTC if you’re going to another country, and even something basic like diarrhea medication can be significantly marked up on a resort or in a hotel gift shop. The same goes for sunscreen–better to have too much than get a bad burn because you scrimped to make it last or simply ran out.
Finally, consider travel insurance, both to cover your costs if your trip must be canceled unexpectedly and in the case that you require medical care while away. You may already be covered through your employer, your private insurance, or even your credit card–never hurts to ask.
Stay Healthy in the Air
Airplanes are more crowded than ever these days, especially if you’re flying coach. And with the recycled air and all those people crammed into one metal tube, flying can seem like asking to get sick–particularly at this time of year, when we’re in the middle of cold and flu season. There are a few things you can do to make sure you get to your destination in good health. For one, wash your hands frequently, or consider using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Proper hand-washing and sanitation is always your best defense against colds and flus. Stay hydrated to avoid headaches and keep your mucous membranes from drying out. You’re more likely to rub your eyes and nose when they’re dry, upping the chances of germ exposure.
Consider taking zinc supplements in the lead up to air travel, since some research shows that it could have a role in preventing colds. And do your best to maintain your healthy habits even during the busy period right before a trip, to make sure you get on the plane in peak physical condition.
Watch What You Eat
Sampling local cuisine is one of the highlights of a trip abroad, but be sure to do it safely to avoid spending most of your vacation in the bathroom. In areas where you are unsure of the water quality, avoid raw fruits and vegetables unless they can be peeled. In the same areas, stick to bottled water. Don’t be too hard on your stomach–even when the food is totally safe, your digestive system may rebel if you overload it with a lot of unfamiliar foods. Wash your hands frequently, particularly after using the bathroom or handling raw foods, and before meals. Be careful in hot temperatures and don’t leave food out too long. When eating out, look for busy restaurants–odds are better that your food will be freshly prepared and won’t have been sitting out for extended periods of time. And keep in mind that food-borne illness can happen close to home as well–the same precautions are smart no matter where you are.
Vacation is time for enjoyment, rest and relaxation. Getting ill while travelling can ruin an otherwise great experience. The four tips listed above — checking for vaccinations, preparing a health kit, staying healthy during air travel and eating carefully — will ensure you enjoy your destination.