Once upon a time, I went to a beautiful, tropical resort with a man I was dating. It was the ideal spot for a relaxing, romantic vacation.
We had been looking forward to it for months, imagined how amazing it was gonna be, and counted the days until we left.
When we arrived at the resort, we fell in love with it. It was A-MAZING! Then, a few days into the trip, he came down with a stomach bug.
How to stay healthy while traveling never crossed our minds during all of our planning.
We weren’t sure what caused his illness, but luckily, we were able to get some medicine and he felt better within 24 hours. Had his illness continued, our trip could’ve been ruined.
Has something like this ever happened to you?
HOW TO STAY HEALTHY WHILE TRAVELING
There are many, many factors that can affect your health. Some you can control, others you can’t.
So, how DO you stay healthy while traveling??
There are quite a few simple precautions you can take before your trip and while you’re traveling.
Check ’em out below.
= BEFORE YOUR TRIP =
PACK A FIRST AID KIT
You never know what may happen when you’re traveling. Illness or injury is always a possibility, so being prepared is important.
One simple way is to bring a well-stocked first aid kit as some things may not be available at your destination.
Here are some of the items I recommend including in your first aid kit:
- Band-aids of Various Sizes (for minor cuts and scrapes)
- Tweezers (in case you get a splinter)
- Neosporin (an antibacterial to put on cuts and scrapes)
- Pain Reliever (for head and muscle aches)
- Anti-Diarrheal (in case you eat something that doesn’t agree with you)
- Tums (to soothe a queasy stomach)
- Motion Sickness Meds
If you don’t want to deal with buying the items individually, you can buy a first aid kit that comes with everything you need including the case to hold the contents.
Recommended Resource: Adventure Medical Kits Smart Travel First-Aid Kit
PACK YOUR PRESCRIPTION MEDS
If you are on any prescription medications, missing a day (or more) while you’re traveling could result in major health issues. And depending on where you’re going, your meds may not be available.
Remembering to pack your prescription meds is important, but how you pack them is just as important.
Some basic medications to treat things like headaches and the common cold are illegal in certain countries and could result in confiscation, deportation, jail time, and even the death penalty. (Yikes!)
Do your due diligence before you go: find out the laws of your destination country, pack your meds with supporting documentation, etc.
Recommended Resource: How to Make Sure You Travel With Medication Legally
GATHER YOUR MEDICAL RECORDS
In the event that you get sick while you’re away, you may need to get treated at a clinic or hospital. Depending on the type and seriousness of your illness, the treating physician may prescribe medication to treat your illness.
If you have any medical conditions or prescription drug allergies, you should alert the treating medical professional prior to receiving any treatment.
You can accomplish this a few ways:
- Wear a MedicAlert bracelet or necklace
- Carry a medical alert card in your wallet complete with an emergency contact name and phone number (you can choose either a basic or advanced medical alert card)
- Carry a copy of your medical records (including your blood type) with you or swap medical records with your travel buddy
- Send your medical records to yourself electronically so you can access them securely and remotely (see below⇓)
RESEARCH YOUR DESTINATION(S)
Knowledge is power. Before you go on any trip, you should research your destination(s) to get a lay of the land and to find out if there are any health risks you should know about.
For example, in some countries, the water isn’t safe to drink (can you say “Montezuma’s Revenge?!). In other countries, you may be at risk of contracting a disease (like the Zika virus) from an insect bite. And in more remote locales, you may be required to get one or more vaccinations before embarking on your trip.
I’m not trying to alarm you, I’m trying to prepare you.
There’s nothing to be afraid of if you know what you’re dealing with. A little advance research can go a long way toward keeping you healthy.
Recommended Resource: Center for Disease Control and Prevention – Travelers’ Health
PURCHASE TRAVEL INSURANCE
You’ve probably heard of trip cancellation insurance. But chances are you haven’t heard of insurance that covers emergency medical expenses and emergency medical evacuation and repatriation.
What does this mean?
- Emergency Medical Expenses – Covers an accidental injury or sickness that occurs during your trip that results in your necessary emergency evacuation. An emergency evacuation must be ordered by a physician who certifies that the severity of your accidental injury or sickness warrants your emergency evacuation.
- Emergency Medical Evacuation – Accidental injury or sickness occurring during the trip that results in your necessary emergency evacuation. An emergency evacuation must be ordered by a physician who certifies that the severity of your accidental injury or sickness warrants your emergency evacuation.
These types of coverage can be a little confusing to understand but extremely useful in the event of an emergency abroad.
Before you purchase any coverage, be sure to contact your own insurance company to find out what, if anything, your policy does – and does not – cover. Then, you can determine what additional coverage you may need.
Whatever you decide, be sure to read the entire policy carefully. If you are unclear about anything, contact the insurance company for further explanation.
Recommended Resource: World Nomad Travel Insurance
= WHILE TRAVELING =
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM WAYWARD GERMS
Everywhere you go, you are exposed to germs. It’s just a fact of life you have to accept.
Whether its flu season or another time of year, there are some simple precautions you can take to avoid getting sick. You can:
- Wash your hands frequently (sing “happy birthday” to yourself twice for a thorough cleaning)
- Carry and use antibacterial hand sanitizer wipes
- Take Airborne or Emergen-C to support your immune system
- Use essential oils (see below⇓). You don’t need a prescription for them so you can take them with you without issue AND they have endless applications.
Recommended Resource: Scent-Sational Travel: Staying Healthy With Essential Oils
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM AIRPLANE GERMS
According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), 2,587,000 people fly into and out of U.S. airports on any given day.
With each plane holding several hundred passengers and each plane flying approximately twice a day, often with very little time between flights for a thorough cleaning, that means you’re coming into contact with a lot of germs.
To avoid getting sick, carry antibacterial hand sanitizer wipes with you and wipe down the following:
- Seatbelt Buckles
- Tray Table
- Window Sill
- Buttons (for the overhead light, the seat recline, etc.)
- Door & toilet handle in the bathroom
Other ways to stay healthy during air travel:
- Wear shoes, socks or slippers when walking around the plane (especially in the bathroom)
- Stay hydrated
- Avoid alcohol – it will contribute to dehydration
- If you want to drink anyway, be aware that due to differences in altitude, 1 drink in the air = 2 drinks on the ground
- Bring your own blanket or throw, pillow, sleep mask, and headphones or ear buds and storage case (there’s no telling how many people have used the ones provided by the flight crew)
- Keep the little air vent above your seat on throughout the flight.
- Get some sleep if you can (noise-canceling headphones can help a lot!)
- Walk around every hour or so to prevent blood clots. (Wearing compression socks is also a good idea.)
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM GERMS IN RENTAL CARS & OTHER FORMS OF TRANSPORTATION
When you get into that rental car, do you know how recently it was cleaned? Rental cars carry fewer people than airplanes (I know – Duh!). Fewer people means fewer germs, right? Not necessarily.
To avoid getting sick, carry antibacterial hand sanitizer wipes with you and wipe down the:
- Steering wheel, Door handle
- Gear shift
- Buttons for door locks, windows, etc.
- Stereo controls
Precautions for other types of transportation vary.
- In a cab or rideshare service such as Uber, use either hand sanitizer or an antibacterial wipe on your hands after you get out of the car vs. wiping down the surfaces during your ride. (The driver would probably think you’re a big weirdo!)
- If you’re gonna be spending a lot of time riding a bus or a train, you can either wipe down the surfaces you’ll be touching just as you would in a plane or just use hand sanitizer or an antibacterial wipe after your trip is over.
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM HOTEL ROOM GERMS
Similar to airplanes, thousands of people stay in any given hotel room each year. Although rooms get cleaned by the housekeeping staff each day, the thoroughness of the cleaning is unknown.
Again, you should wipe down various things with an antibacterial hand sanitizer wipe
Do you know what the dirtiest thing in a hotel room is? The hairdryer (Ewww!) Find out more in the article below.
Recommended Resource: How to Protect Yourself from Hotel Room Germs
GET ENOUGH SLEEP
If you’re like me, you may have trouble sleeping when you’re away. Not getting enough sleep can make you run down and more prone to illness than if you’re well-rested.
One way to get to sleep easier is to turn off your tech at least an hour before going to bed. (I know it’s hard, but it WILL help!)
Another helpful tip: take a bath or shower to help you relax.
Recommended Resource: How to Have a More Peaceful Hotel Stay
MAKE SMART & HEALTHY FOOD CHOICES
Whether you realize it or not, the type of food you eat can affect how you feel. For example, heavy, fried foods can make you feel sluggish; lighter foods can make you feel healthy and energetic.
Where you get your food can also affect how you feel and your likelihood of getting sick. If you’re in a foreign country, cooked food is typically safer than raw food just as bottled water is safer than tap water.
When it comes to your diet, err on the side of caution.
MAINTAIN YOUR WORKOUT ROUTINE
If working out is an integral part of your daily life, you won’t want to neglect your regular exercise program while you’re traveling.
Continuing your exercise routine will help you maintain the good health you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
Recommended Resource: 9 Ways to Stay Fit When Traveling
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