Smart Steps to Healthy Vacations

This is the traditional start of the summer vacation season with millions of Americans traveling by land, air, or even sea. Whether you’re staying close to home or heading to a distant destination, staying healthy and avoid illness and injury is a priority. Here are tips for vacationers on staying healthy while enjoying summer fun.

Q: How should I prepare for a healthy journey?

A: Put together a travelers’ health kit that includes your prescribed medications, over-the-counter medication to prevent diarrhea, sunscreen, insect repellent, alcohol-based hand gels, first-aid items, and toilet items. Plan ahead and stock up on extra doses of prescription medications for longer trips.

Q: I am heading to a hot climate area. What’s my main health risk?

A: Extreme heat can cause a variety of illnesses and injuries. Stay safe in hot weather by keeping cool through the use of air conditioning and staying hydrated by drinking plenty of cool non-alcoholic beverages. Drink more water than normal and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.

Q: How do I stay informed about health risks while on vacation?

A:  Check local news sources for weather warnings or safety tips, or sign up for free weather alerts to your phone or e-mail, especially if bad weather is forecasted.

Q: I’m driving to my vacation destination. What should I be aware of?

A: More Americans are driving to their travel destinations these days. Safety on the road is critical.  Include emergency items in your vehicle, such as a blanket, flashlight, reflective warning signs, bottled water, first aid kit, and extra coolant and motor oil. While we’re quite aware that drinking and driving don’t mix, some medicines can also impair your ability to drive. Seat belt use, proper use of car seats for infants, and keeping a full tank of gas are always smart tips. Also, be aware of germs if you use a highway rest stop area and avoid touching surfaces unnecessarily.

Q: What about traveling by air, rail or bus?

A: Cramped environments can put us in the path of someone’s sneeze or cough. Germs can also be present on trays, seats, and other surfaces so hand sanitizers and antibacterial wipes should be used to clean surfaces and your hands. Wash hands with soap and water for cleaning. Drink a lot of water to compensate for dehydration and dryness during long flights.

Q: Our family is heading to a foreign country. What should I be aware of?

A. Be sure you and your family are up to date with your vaccinations. Make an appointment with your health care provider or a travel medical clinic 4-6 weeks before your trip to get your vaccines or medications and other information about protecting yourself from illness while traveling. Many vaccines take time to become effective, and some vaccines must be given over a period of time. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is an excellent source of general and country-specific information on vaccines and travel medicines. Research country-specific information, travel warnings and alerts through the U.S. State Department’s travel information website.   Finally, travel insurance including medical evacuation is a must if you’re heading overseas.

Planning ahead can help you and your family to avoid any unnecessary trouble. Happy travels!

Pharmacist Andy