It’s about that time of year when millions upon millions of people travel for the holidays. Unfortunately, when millions are traveling, many of those will likely be sick in some fashion or another. And if you plan on traveling you’ll likely run into a few of them (hopefully, only b/c you hear them, not b/c you feel them!). Which leads me to the question of the day: how do you avoid getting sick?
Wash your hands
First and foremost wash your dang hands!
I know. You hear it all the time. “Tell me something useful,” you’re probably thinking. Well, let me tell you a little secret. The reason you hear it all the time, is because it frickin’ works! But you have to do it right. Wet. Lather. Scrub. Rinse. Dry. All of that should take about 30-45 seconds. If you skip any of those steps, you’re doing it wrong.
Drink bottled water
When you travel to a place that may not have the most pure water, or you know the water isn’t the most sanitary, drink bottled water. It’ll keep you from getting ill. You may see locals drinking the water, making you think it’s safe, but your stomach may not have the right kind of bacteria to keep you from getting sick. The locals do. This word of caution also includes ice.
Milk should be boiled, unless you’re sure it has been pasteurized. The good news? Hot tea, coffee, beer and wine should be totally safe to drink. At least you’re guaranteed a good time!
Be aware of food contamination
Eating contaminated food can pretty much ruin your entire vacation. You’ll probably end up spending most of it on (or near) the toilet. Which means there are food items you may want to think about before eating - if not avoiding them all together, including:
- Raw fruit or veggies that you haven’t peeled yourself.
- Salads that may have been prepared with untreated water.
- Raw or undercooked food, especially meat and fish.
Getting a sunburn can ruin your vacation. Just ask my sister. She got a really bad sunburn when visiting me in Florida one summer and it nearly ruined her visit. I would highly recommend lathering yourself with some SPF 15 or 30.
You should also consider covering your skin. Wear a hat, for example, to protect your scalp and face. Long pants and long t-shirts can also help you out, even if they’re not the most comfortable in hot weather.
When you’re planning on being in the sun a lot (say you’re taking a vacation in a tropical location), staying hydrated helps too. Drink plenty of (bottled) water to help protect yourself.
Mosquito bites are the worst
Yeah, they’re annoying. But those mosquito bites can also be dangerous. That is because those little blood suckers can transmit a whole bunch of nasty diseases including yellow fever, malaria, dengue fever, and chickungunya (not to be confused for an item on KFC’s menu). Fortunately there are sites like this one at the Centers for Disease Control that can help keep you safe.
Plus there are other actions you can also take:
- If you’re going for a walk spray yourself with DEET.
- Sleep under a ceiling fan. The moving air will make it more difficult for the little buggers to get you.
- Cover yourself up.
Seeing a health professional
You know your body/health the most. If you think you need to see a doctor, or other health professional before your trip, do it.
There are some destinations that are more dangerous to travel to than others. A doctor and/or nurse can help make sure you have all the appropriate vaccinations. They can also prescribe antimalarials if necessary.
These are just a few simple ways to help keep yourself from falling ill while you travel. And that’s the thing - they’re simple. So simple, they are often easy to overlook. I would recommend making health preparations part of your pre-trip planning. It’s just another simple step that will ultimately make your life a whole lot easier in the long run.
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