As travel dominates the summer season, your healthcare becomes even more important during the break in your routine. After taking the time to plan a trip, there’s nothing worse than feeling the tell-tale signs of an illness coming on. In this article, we will outline how to stay healthy on vacation and avoid getting sick before and during your upcoming trips. We will guide you through preventative measures you can take before leaving, how to avoid germs when taking a flight, and what to do if you do get sick during your vacation.
Best practices for healthy travel
Give your body the proper vitamins and minerals
A balance of essential vitamins and minerals is key to maintaining a healthy immune system. A well-planned diet will build protection against illness, and can also increase your energy levels. On a vacation, it is common to treat yourself to heavier meals, sugar, and alcoholic beverages. However, an increased amount of these meals can cause an upset stomach and lower energy levels. Find a balance in your meals from day to day to make sure you are getting the proper vitamin and mineral intake so you can thoroughly enjoy your time away.
While improving your diet is great for overall health, IV infusion therapy is an easier, quicker method to manage your vitamin and nutrient intake. IV infusions create a direct route for vitamins to enter your bloodstream, making it more effective than taking over-the-counter pills. Before you go away, utilizing IV infusion therapy can ensure your body has the proper vitamins and nutrients for a healthy immune system. Whether you adjust your diet or opt for an IV infusion, each method helps to keep you healthy and protected.
Ensure you are hydrated
On most vacations, travelers may find themselves spending a lot of time in the sun and also indulging in more alcoholic beverages than usual. This can heavily increase the chances of dehydration, making you more susceptible to illness, low energy, and hangovers. Around 60% of the body is made up of water, meaning dehydration can sorely affect immune health and organ function. Staying hydrated creates a path for the bloodstream to absorb nutrients more efficiently, increasing energy levels and immune health.
While it is important to stay hydrated on your trip, it is even more important to make sure you are drinking clean water. The quality of water varies in different parts of the United States and in other countries. Drinking unclean water can lead to severe stomach problems and other illnesses. When traveling to an area with unsafe drinking water, avoid ice in drinks as well, as it can also contaminate your drink. To ensure hydration in the safest way possible, bring or purchase bottled water for consumption.
Do your trips often leave you feeling sluggish, sunburnt, or ill? If you find yourself feeling dehydrated after a trip, IV infusion therapy is a great way to restore hydration without gulping down too much water in a short amount of time. Devine Concierge Medicine offers IV infusion therapy, right to your home. Reach out to learn more and schedule an appointment.
Wash your hands thoroughly and use hand sanitizer
Whether you're traveling or at home, it’s easy to rest your hand or lean on a surface without thinking about it. In the airport especially, thousands of other people around you are also touching the same surfaces, easily spreading germs. If you also touch your face or mouth after touching these surfaces, germs more easily into the body. To keep your hands clean, make sure you are regularly washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, thoroughly covering the skin. Carrying hand sanitizer is also a great way to clean your hands if you are unable to get to a bathroom. If you opt to bring a portable hand sanitizer, it should contain at least 60% alcohol to properly eliminate germs.
Wear a mask
Another way to avoid getting sick while traveling is to wear a mask. In crowded planes, public transportation, or areas of poor ventilation, wearing a mask can protect you and those around you from the spread of germs. They are also helpful in deterring you from touching your face and mouth. For the most protection, make sure you are wearing a well-fitted mask that fully covers your nose and mouth.
Avoid sharing drinks or utensils
A common myth is that alcohol in a drink will kill germs in the mouth or on the glass itself. Contrary to this belief, the alcohol in a cocktail will not prevent the spread of germs as it is not a high enough concentration. For any food or drink consumption, avoid sharing glasses and utensils with your fellow travelers — even with your partner!
Avoid crowded areas
On vacation, avoiding crowded places can seem impossible, but there are still ways to evade the masses. When choosing a place or activity, try to find places with good ventilation, such as outdoor restaurants and bars.
Before your trip, you should also take time away from crowded places if possible to avoid potentially picking up a virus or infection. This will prevent you from catching something right before you leave, and also keep you from spreading germs to other travelers.
Preventative measures to take before trips
The best way to stay healthy on vacation is to take time to prepare before you leave. In addition to packing your bags, make sure you do the following:
Make sure you're up to date on your vaccinations
While a healthy diet and proper hydration are great for general health, one of the main ways to keep illness at bay is to make sure you are up to date on your vaccines. Many illnesses in the United States have been almost entirely eradicated due to high vaccination rates. If you don’t have the vaccinators for any of the routine vaccines like chicken pox, measles, or mumps, traveling out of the country comes with a higher risk of infection.
When traveling, you also tend to come in contact with more people in busy destination areas, airports, or on cruise ships. Close, increased contact with large groups of people increases your chance of contracting Covid-19 and other viruses like colds and flus. To protect yourself, make sure you are up to date on your original Covid-19 vaccinations and boosters. While the flu can spread year round, it is especially important to schedule a flu vaccine before the peak seasons of fall and winter if you plan to travel during that time.
Before you leave for your trip, contact your physician to discuss your travel arrangements and have them determine what vaccinations they recommend. If you need a vaccination, schedule a time at least two weeks before your trip to allow your immune system to reach the full level of protection.
Make sure you know the emergency service number if you are traveling abroad
When traveling out of the country, in case of an emergency, you’ll need to know the right number to call for help. Much like the United States’ 911 phone number, other countries have different emergency phone numbers. Make sure to research the appropriate emergency lines for your destination and have it written down and saved in your phone.
How to avoid getting sick while flying
As we stated previously, airports are one of the most heavily trafficked areas for any type of traveler. Before you step into the airport, learn how to avoid getting sick while flying with the following tips:
Keep your distance in the airport
On average, about 52,000 people travel each day through the Philadelphia airport, and this number increases even more in the summer. Whether in long lines or rushing to the gate, you are surrounded by other people trying to get to their destinations. When possible, keep your distance from other passengers to avoid the spread of germs.
Choose a window seat
If given the option, a window seat is the best way to avoid the constant foot traffic in airplane aisles. While some people may prefer the aisle seat so they can get up more easily, this allows passengers and flight attendants to constantly walk past you, where they may bump into you or touch your seat. Window seats are farther from the aisle, putting more distance between you and other people on your flight. However, they are often more chilly than aisle seats, so if you run cold, make sure to bring a sweater!
How to avoid sickness and germs on vacation
After taking your pre-travel precautions, it’s also important to be aware of your activities during your vacation to stay healthy. As you start to unwind, keep your health top of mind during your activities to avoid catching an illness halfway through your trip or on your return home. Your body is especially susceptible to new germs when it is unfamiliar with an area. The best way to avoid sickness on a trip is to follow our best practices, including washing your hands frequently, not sharing glasses and utensils, staying hydrated, and eating balanced meals. If you are venturing into crowded areas or taking public transportation, wearing a mask can also protect you and those around you.
What to do if you get sick on vacation
While you may not want to miss out on any activities, it is important to take time to rest to ensure your body has time to heal. Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep to avoid extending your illness and ensure a proper recovery.
While you can take helpful measures to stay healthy on vacation, occasionally you may still fall ill. If you find yourself battling an unknown illness, there are few things you can do to combat it. If you can’t determine your illness or don't know how to proceed, schedule a telehealth appointment with Devine Concierge Medicine. At home or away, Devine Concierge Medicine offers 24/7, same-day telehealth appointments to discuss your symptoms and help you find ways to recover.
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