How many times have we heard of people falling sick in another country or right in the midst of their travel? No one wants to experience that! The following easy ways to stay healthy when traveling will reduce your risk of illness and accidents when traveling locally or abroad. With a little knowledge and prevention, you can safeguard against many travel-related illnesses. Here are 14 easy ways to stay healthy when traveling.
1. Do a complete health assessment before you depart
If you have a tendency of getting sick or have certain risk factors (age, existing health issues, seasonal/climate allergies etc) then make sure you talk to your GP before you depart. S/he can give you many tips as well as preventive medication to help you remain safe and healthy when you travel. Taking preventive medicines against gastrointestinal illnesses and other common conditions can certainly make sure that you have a good time on your vacation/business. You, on your part, must ensure that your itinerary and accommodation are comfortable.
2. Get vaccinated
Consult your physician regarding the kind of vaccinations you will need. In general, you must get vaccinated against hepatitis, malaria, yellow fever, rabies, flu, tick/animal borne diseases and Japanese encephalitis. Also carry all the records of your immunizations. This is one of the important easy ways to stay healthy when traveling.
3. Read up and reach out
Read up about the local laws, customs, climate and weather conditions and other important aspects of the place you are traveling to. If possible, reach out to your embassy or other local authorities who can give you current information about the political or security conditions of the place. This is essential to keep yourself safe and healthy especially when traveling to areas having violence and unrest.
4. Postpone the trip if needed
If, on the day of the departure, you are feeling unwell, you might want to reconsider your travel. If needed, talk to your physician whether it is safe for you to travel. Sometimes, it might be travel-related anxiety that could be making you jittery; but you are the best judge whether that is the case or it is something more serious. This is one of the important ways to stay healthy when traveling.
5. Purchase health insurance
Many travelers make the mistake of not investing in health insurance. However, this can end up costing you tons of money in case you happen to fall sick or get injured whilst on your journey. You can consider buying a combo package which includes flight cancellation, lost luggage as well as illness/injury. This is one of the easy ways to stay healthy when travelling aboard.
6. Follow safety rules in summer
One of the easy ways to stay healthy in summer, especially when traveling with kids to areas where temperatures go extremely high, follow basic precautions like staying in the shade, wearing loose cotton clothes and a wide-brimmed hat. Always use a sunscreen with at least SPF 25++. It is best to avoid sightseeing during the peak hours of 10 am to 4 pm. If you are prone to heat exhaustion and strokes, try to stay indoors in air conditioned rooms. Drink plenty of water (bottled water from safe sources) and take rest.
7. Take all prescription drugs on time
If you are diabetic or suffer from hypertension, make sure you take your prescribed medication for these conditions on time. You must carry your healthcare provider’s prescription notes with you, as many countries need this proof at the time of customs check. Always carry your medical records stating your physician’s contact details as well as the drugs and dosages and other allergy information.
8. Precautions for senior travelers
Elderly travelers must take all precautions to stay safe and healthy when traveling, locally or abroad. As stated above, one must take their prescribed medicines on time. Sometimes, environmental changes, jet lag etc can aggravate existing medical conditions. So do try to only indulge in those physical activities that you can handle comfortably and safely. Travelers with limited mobility must use a cane or wheelchair if possible. Do drink plenty of water and get adequate sleep and rest.
9. Traveling when pregnant
The easy ways to stay healthy when traveling during pregnancy is to avoid travel after the 6th month, especially in case of women having a history of premature labor. If you are flying, make sure you walk three to four times during the flight to prevent blood clots in the legs.
10. Traveling safely with kids
There is no easy ways to travel with kids, especially infants and toddlers. Parents must ensure getting the children vaccinated against illness (as mentioned above). When flying, babies might get agitated due to changes in air pressure that can cause ear aches. Giving the child a pacifier, or a bottle or something to chew upon can help with the pain. Also, use a safety seat and seat belts for kids whether traveling in a car or in a flight. These are important ways to stay healthy for kids during travels.
11. Watch what you eat and drink
When traveling to developing nations, it is best to avoid street food. Only eat boiled and well cooked food. Always insist on bottled mineral water and even brush your teeth with this water. Avoid accepting food and drink from strangers, no matter how well dressed they might seem. Avoid unpasteurized dairy including ice-cream. Try and acclimatize slowly to the new place. This means drinking tons of clean water, avoiding alcohol, caffeine and other dehydrating beverages. Avoid heavy meals and let your system get adjusted to the new place and food. If you are traveling for work, do not schedule any meetings (as far as possible) in the first 24 hours.
12. Use a hand sanitizer
This is one of the easy ways to stay healthy when traveling. You might not always have access to clean water and soap for washing your hands. So do try to use alcohol based sanitizers for cleaning your hands. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
13. Avoid needles and unprotected sex
Person-to-person disease transfer is a major cause of sickness during travel. Avoid getting tattoos, acupuncture, body-piercing etc and especially avoid unprotected sex. Stay away from crowded areas. Wash your hands frequently.
14. Stay safe during recreational activities
When scuba diving or participating in water/road sports etc, make sure you know all the rules and dive or swim in safe areas with a life guard or certified instructors.
If, despite all precautions and using these easy ways to stay healthy when traveling, you do fall sick, contact a reliable doctor. Many places have in-house physicians that can give you medical assistance. Happy and safe travels!