10 Tips for a Healthy Summer Vacation
Whether your vacation plans involve domestic or overseas travel, general health and safety measures can help you and your family prevent illness and injury.
1. Watch What You Eat. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers these healthy eating suggestions while you are on vacation:
- Sample small amounts of high–calorie foods. You do not have to avoid these foods entirely; just reduce the amount that you eat to a few bites.
- Share large portions. Many restaurants serve very large portions, so do not hesitate to split orders.
- Space meals throughout the day. It can be easy to "graze" while on vacation. Try to set meal times and stick to them.
2. Drink Plenty of Water.
- Children become dehydrated more easily than adults, so pay extra attention to children.
- Drink bottled water, especially if you are in a foreign country where tap water may not be safe to drink.
- If the tap water is not safe to drink in the area you are visiting, do not use it to make juice, to rinse fresh fruits and vegetables or to brush your teeth.
3. Wash Your Hands Often.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the most important ways to reduce infectious disease transmission is to wash hands carefully and frequently with soap and water.
- Carry antibacterial hand wipes or alcohol–based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol for situations in which hot water and soap are not available.
4. Get Adequate Sleep.
- When you sleep well, you wake up feeling refreshed, alert and ready to enjoy the day.
- Do your best to stay on a regular sleep schedule. Being awake and alert can help you get the most enjoyment out of your trip.
5. Pack a First–aid Kit. Include the following items:
- Bandages, sterile gauze pads, instant cold packs, a thermometer, scissors, tweezers, a needle, moistened towelettes, blister pads, assorted sizes of safety pins and latex gloves.
- Antiseptics, over–the–counter pain relievers, anti–diarrhea medication, antacid, a tube of hydrocortisone cream for itchy skin reactions, allergy relief, cold and cough medicine, motion sickness medication.
- Syrup of Ipecac (used to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center), a laxative, petroleum jelly or other lubricant and a cleansing agent/soap.
6. Protect Yourself from Insect Bites.
- Be sure to use insect repellent that contains DEET (30 to 50 percent) or picaridin (up to 15 percent) whenever you are outdoors in areas where disease–carrying insects are active.
7. Protect Yourself from the Sun.
- Liberally apply a broad–spectrum, water–resistant sunscreen of at least SPF 15 thirty minutes before going outdoors. Sunscreen should then be re–applied every two hours or after physical activity.
- Loose–fitting, tightly–woven fabric offer the best protection from UV rays. Sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays offer the best eye protection.
8. When Traveling Internationally.
- See your doctor or specialist six weeks prior to your trip. Most vaccines take time to become effective and require more than one dose in a series.
- Take a list of U.S. embassies and consulates with you in case of an emergency and find the hospital or medical care facility that is located closest to your destination. Remember, when you leave the United States, you are subject to the laws of the country that you are visiting.
- Carry a written copy of your medical history and check with your health insurance provider to see if you are covered for medical care and medical evacuation while on vacation.
9. Be Aware of Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs).
- RWIs can be found in swimming pools, lakes, rivers, hot tubs, decorative fountains and in the ocean; and can be spread by swallowing, breathing or coming into contact with contaminated water.
- Take your children on bathroom breaks often. Change diapers in a bathroom and not near the pool or shoreline. Germs can spread to surfaces and objects in and around the water.
- Avoid swimming in the ocean for at least 24 hours after a heavy rain. Storm–water runoff from the streets and drainage areas may wash pollution into the water.
10. Traveling With a Health Condition.
- Keep your medications in their original prescription bottles and keep all medications with you in your carry–on luggage. Pack copies of all of your prescriptions, including the generic name of each medication.
- If you are carrying a controlled substance and/or injectable medication, be sure to have a note--on letterhead--from the prescribing physician indicating that you are allowed to have them in your possession.
- You should also leave a copy of your prescriptions at home with a friend or relative.