Staying Healthy While Traveling 5 Simple Tips
I love to travel; there is nothing more exciting or invigoration than exploring new places, learning new things, making friends, and seeing what the world has to offer. However, nothing can kill a trip faster than getting sick. Whether it is a cold, allergy flare-up, stomach bugs, food poisoning, or just a general immune system shut down, anything that steals your energy and ability to get up and go can be a trip killer. There are things we can do to protect ourselves from these unfortunate occurrences and help make their visit as short as possible. These are tips I have used myself and they have helped save a long-awaited vacation from going down the tubes.
Tip Number One is to pretend you are a Boy Scout
Whenever I pack for a trip, even if it is just over the weekend, I live by the Boy Scout’s motto- be prepared for anything. It does not take up much room in a back to make sure you have all of the basic medicines you may need. I have a check list I always go through and make sure I have packed before I ever leave. Some of my must-haves include some sort of pain pill, antacids, gas relief pills, allergy medications, nasal sprays, basic first aid, rubbing alcohol, peroxide, and mouth sore ointment. There have been times while traveling that I have bit my tongue or cheek while eating; the numbing gel works wonders here. Once I was brave and tried an exotic dish while traveling in South America; my stomach did not agree with me afterwards and if not for the supply of antacids I had brought, I might have missed out on a few days of sightseeing adventure. And I always have a need for pain pills between headaches, sore muscles, and other small annoyances that come with the go-go-go life of many of my trips. Having a few pills on hand to stave off a migraine, loosen a stomach cramp, ease a pulled muscle, or allow for a restful night can all help save a vacation from disaster. One trip in particular was saved because of having grabbed a few Dramamine before the trip. Flights usually don’t bother me, so it wasn’t second nature for me t take motion sickness pills with me. However, I was traveling to a very mountainous region, and I am so thankful I had them. The winding mountain road with the steep hills and switchback roads did a number on my stomach and without the medicine, I would have been green by the time we finished the two hour long drive. So take it from me, it never hurts to try and be prepared for any medical need that may arise.
Tip Number Two is to research where you are going
Before I ever step foot on a plane, car, or walk out of my door to go traveling, I spend some time researching my destination and the places I will be visiting during my travels. When I traveled overseas to Romania three different times, I did research on each area I would be traveling. One summer, I was very thankful I had done so. Our tour group stopped at this little town for dinner. As we started ordering, I remembered something I had read prior to the trip- that the water in the area was not the cleanest for drinking so it was best to order bottled water or drinks and not use the local ice. I reminded my companions of this, but some did not take my advice and ordered their drinks or requested glasses of ice to use on their drinks. We finished dinner with several of them poking fun at me and calling me paranoid. I simply told them I stood by decision and I trusted the research I had done and would rather drink slightly cooled water and deal with not having any ice than risk being sick. The result? By the next day, I was one of the few in the group who did not have the runs and other less than pleasant stomach issues. While most of my group was lying in their hotel rooms sick, I was able to continue exploring the area. While they were hugging the toilet bowls and curling up under the covers, I was exploring the Romanian market and shopping for souvenirs. I could have easily become one of them too, if I had not done my research beforehand. So I can say most assuredly that it is imperative that you conduct research of the areas you will be visiting before you get there- it could keep you healthier!
Tip Number Three is always be aware of your surroundings
In today’s world there is so much that can distract us. From phones and ipdas for the techno savvy, to the maps and cameras for the pure tourists, there is a lot vying for our attention. When I travel, especially if it is over a long distance or overseas, I try to limit what I take out with me when I go walking or exploring. Of course I have my camera with me and I usually have a map, but I try not to have a lot of other gizmos and things tying me up and distracting me. I also make sure I am not trying to do too many things at once. Many injuries occur when we are distracted and trying to multi-task too much. I try to avoid looking at maps or other papers while I am walking, This way I am aware of what is around me and I am less likely to trip, fall, run into something or someone, and I am more aware of who and what is around me. I have seen countless people trip over sidewalks and curbs, fall down stairs, and stumble because they are fiddling with a map or something else while they are trying to walk. On a visit to D.C. on year, I was in the subway waiting for the next train. There were a fair number of people but still room to walk around. I was leaning against one of the pillars, looking over the map while I waited. Suddenly, I heard shouts and people yelling. I looked up and right in front of me a group of people were gathered by the platform’s edge. I hurried over and soon learned that a young man had fallen off the platform and onto the tracks. Luckily they got him up before the train arrived, but he did get banged up a bit. What caused him to fall? He had been texting on his phone and stepped right off the edge of the platform. It could have been a lot worse and I hope that young man learned a lesson and was a little more careful when he went walking- especially in the subway. The hazards of distracted walking do not just entail falling off platforms and curbs. People have been hit by cars, wandered into construction areas, ran into other pedestrians and bicyclists, and the number one threat to distracted walking is that you are a prime target for pickpockets and thieves. So do yourself a favor and follow my advice- put the camera and phone away until you get to where you are going. If you need to look at the map or just have to send a text, then get to a safe place where you can stop. Don’t be distracted and stay aware of your surroundings. That’s what I have done and it has kept me safe these many years.
Tip Number Four is use common sense when traveling
One of the greatest assets we have as humans is our ability to think logically and reason. We can make informed choices abut what we will and will not do. It always amazes me though how many people cannot seem to find any common sense or wisdom when they travel. This problem seems to abound whether the trip is just a few hours or as much as a few weeks. I am a bit of a theme park junkie and love visiting Florida theme parks. It never ceases to amaze me how many of my fellow guests seem to check their brains in at the front gate. I have seen people come to Florida in July without sunscreen. Florida is called the sunshine state for a reason. Other times the lapses in judgment are more mind blowing and cringe worthy. There was one time I was at a Florida theme park and had just gotten off one of the rides where you get absolutely soaked. It was the middle of summer so I didn’t care at all. As I was walking back to the locker to get my phone and camera, I overheard some girls talking behind me. One girl asked the other if her camera was ok after the ride. I had to be hearing that wrong… no one would be crazy enough to take a camera on a water ride. I glanced over my shoulder and saw the girl hold up the camera and shake it a little. Drops of water fell from the camera. I cringed- I think more so for the lack of common sense than for the fact that someone had just lost a hundred dollar camera. I have countless stories to tell of lapses of judgment and the price people have paid. There are times even I fall victim to lapses in common sense- like not wearing my comfortable shoes when I know I will be walking around and on my feet all day. It happens to all of us, but taking an extra few minutes to think things through logical before taking action can help save time, money, and some embarrassment later on down the road.
Tip Number Five is to remember your basic health and safety practices
The tried and true rules and tips for safety never go out of style. They are the foundation for many of us and have become second nature to many of us. Some of the basic health and safety practices I abide by when I travel are very common. Simply getting enough sleep at night can help you stay healthy. Sleep deprivation can lead to immune system shut downs, lapses in judgment and reacting times, and it can become hazardous with driving. Being smart when traveling can be as simple as the old idea of having a buddy to travel with. Especially when visiting a new place, I find it very helpful and comforting to have someone with me. The strength in numbers advice we have heard most of our lives is very true. Making sure you have your idea and important documents with you at all times is also good advice from the old days. Whenever I travel overseas, I always have my passport, debit card, emergency contact info and ID with me. This literally helped save my life one time. I was overseas finishing up a week-long trip in Europe. I had been having a great time exploring everything. My final visit before heading back home was n Germany. It was the middle of an abnormal heat wave, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from seeing everything I wanted to see. I ended up pushing too hard and ended up passing out from heat exhaustion. I was dehydrated from not drinking enough and was overheated. If I had not had my ID, medical emergency information, and other documents with me, I may not have received the treatment I needed or might not have received as prompt attention as I did. Remember the things you were told as a child: wash your hands- it will help keep from you from catching any local germs, be careful in the street- some countries have relaxed traffic laws, and eat healthy- binging on junk foods and snacks will stress out your body more than it already is with the new environment and new activities. Take care of yourself, like I do; listen to your body and take your cues from how you are feeling. I have had instances where I have not taken as good care of myself as I should have; but it is all a learning experience, so please learn from me, before you have to experience it for yourself.
I hope you find these tip helpful. They have been a great asset to me in all of my travels. Take them, use them, and share them. Remember to be prepared for anything and pack all of the common and necessary medicines you may need on your trip- do not assume there will be places to buy medicines freely. Remember to invest some time into research before you leave- it could help prevent problems from even arising. Remember the importance of being aware of your surroundings- and remember how much distraction can cost you if you are not careful. Remember to sue common sense- don’t check your brain in at the door, use it and make wise decisions. Remember you basic health and safety tips that we learned in school- they’re still just as important and applicable today as they were twenty years ago. By following theses simple tips, you can help to ensure that this family vacation will be one of the best ever!
I would like to take this time to thank my assistant Sarah Jo Coryell for her help on making this article extra amazing.