Are you taking a vacation this summer? Then it’s important to take good self-care practices with you. It’s easy to let your health slip while you’re on vacation — you’re more likely to be eating in restaurants, staying up late, and testing your immune system against exposure to all the germs in public places like airports or train stations. So it’s important to keep some tips in mind for staying healthy, even while traveling.
- Maintain good hygiene. Wash hands frequently, and carry travel-sized hand sanitizers with you. On airplanes, make sure to wipe down tray tables, latches, and other surfaces with anti-bacterial wipes. They are most likely be carrying bacteria like E.coli, which spread from the airplane lavatories. Also buy bottled water ahead of time from somewhere that isn’t on the plane, so your lips don’t come into contact with cups or bottles from aboard the plane.
- Make sure that vaccines are up do date, especially if you’re traveling to remote areas where a trip to the emergency room isn’t as easy as picking up the phone. The CDC has a good guide to be vaccination practices. Talk to your doctor about the Twinrix travel vaccine, which prevents certain strains of Hepatitis A and B, an infection of the liver that can be transmitted through spa tools, water, personal contact, or contact with bodily fluids from infected people. Certain countries have higher rates of these hepatitis strains than others, and travellers visiting those areas are advised to obtain the Twinrix vaccine. This includes children travelling with adults. If travel is occurring in less than one month, the vaccination schedule can be “accelerated”for adults.
- Watch your alcohol intake, and drink plenty of water. Resorts and other destinations love to mix up powerful cocktails (they have to justify those prices somehow!), and it’s easy to forget how much alcohol is in your drink until it’s too late. (The little umbrellas do a good job distracting you.) Also, keep in mind that different countries, and different states within the United States, have different rules regarding how much alcohol is legal to include in a single serving. For example, in the city of New Orleans, Everclear grain alcohol (75.5% ABV) is legal to use in blended and mixed drinks. Your bartender will know how much he or she is legally allowed to serve you, and if you’re concerned, don’t feel embarrassed for asking. Mixed drinks are often a sneaky source of calories anyway, because they rely on sugary syrups and flavourings to hide the taste of alcohol. So be careful, and remember to alternate drinks with glasses of water or club soda.
- Eat your vegetables. Most restaurant menus will want to ply you with fried food, heavy dishes, and enormous desserts. And without a kitchen of your own, you don’t have much choice in the matter. If you decide to indulge, then do your digestive system a favour and at least order a salad or a side dish of sautéed or steamed veggies to increase your fibre, vitamin, and mineral intake with each meal. Remember, your immune system will be up against all kinds of challenges while traveling, from jet lag to germy planes. Feeding yourself with nutritious food can help your system fight those challenges.
- Wear sunscreen. This may seem obvious, but it still bears repeating. It’s especially important to refresh sunscreen while doing outdoor activities like swimming, golfing, or biking, when sunscreen can wash off or sweat off. And beware the reflective properties of water: you can still get a sunburn from activities like kayaking or canoeing, even if you’re wearing a hat.
- Wear the right shoes. Visiting a new city or touring a major museum is a lot easier with the proper footwear. Make sure you have well-balanced shoes with good arch support to get you through long walks up strange streets, and avoid high heels or other elements that could be stuck in cobblestones or grates. New cities can be a chance to have an amazing experience, but it’ll be hard to feel that sense of wonder if your feet are covered in blisters.
- Bring a small first-aid kit and a selection of medicines, like anti-inflammatories, allergy medication, and anti-acids or anti-nausea medication. Especially if you’re in a foreign country, you might have a tough time finding the products that work for you. But you’ll need them in the event of an allergy or asthma attack, or in the case of a migraine or cramps.
- Learn some basic phrases for getting help. If traveling abroad, find an app or flashcards that can help you communicate the basics in the local language. That way if you do suffer something like a migraine, food poisoning, asthma or allergy attack, or other misfortune, you can speak to a doctor or nurse. This is especially important if you have chronic conditions like diabetes, or allergies to specific medications, or a food allergy that restaurant staff need to know about.
- Bring your workout gear! Many hotels have gyms or maintain partnerships with local gyms in the immediate area, and some even offer yoga classes as part of their amenities. Working out and staying on track will mean you have less work to do when you get home, and the de-stressing properties of exercise will help you sweat out your frustration with the person ahead of you line who couldn’t figure out the automated check-in kiosk, or the kids kicking your chair the entire flight.