10 Healthy Travel Tips
A little planning before you leave can help ensure a healthy summer vacation.
by Chris Walker, MD, Chief of Adult and Family Medicine, Kaiser Permanente Napa Solano
Summer is here and for many of us that means summer vacations. Here are some tips to help you stay healthy.
1. If you are traveling overseas, find out whether you need any immunizations or medicines. Vaccines that may be recommended include those for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B , and others. Medicines may include those for malaria prevention.
2. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for information on travel health and safety, and up-to-date information about disease outbreaks. Take along the phone numbers and addresses of embassies in the areas you will visit.
3. Mosquitos can transmit malaria, a parasite that can cause high and ongoing fevers. So if you travel to areas where mosquito-borne illnesses are found, consider using insect repellent. Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, especially from dusk to dawn.
4. When visiting places that may not have safe tap water, drink only beverages made with boiled water, such as tea and coffee. Canned or bottled carbonated drinks are usually a safe choice. Don’t use ice if you don’t know what kind of water was used to make it. You may also want to avoid raw vegetables, raw unpeeled fruits, or raw or undercooked meat and seafood that could give you food poisoning.
5. Ask your doctor if there are medicines or extra safety steps that you should take. For example, if you have asthma, you may need to avoid stays in cities with polluted air or make sure you have the right medicines to treat your symptoms.
6. Wherever you go, you will likely be surrounded by fellow travelers. All those doorknobs, handrails, elevator buttons, and hotel remote controls have been touched by hundreds of hands before yours. The simplest and most effective way to stay well is to wash your hands often. Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes can also help. Use a paper towel to avoid touching surfaces in public restrooms. Limiting the surfaces you touch will help limit your exposure to germs.
7. If you take medication, keep it in its original container so you know what it is and how much to take. Refill your prescriptions in advance to ensure you have enough while you’re away.
8. Consider packing a small kit with some health essentials, including: medications for diarrhea, motion sickness and pain, and bandages and ointment for wounds.
9. Keep handy the telephone numbers for your doctor and information about any health condition you may have. That would be helpful to emergency personnel treating you if needed.
10. Finally, remember to pack and use a broad spectrum sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher, to avoid sunburns.
Kaiser Permanente members can find more information about staying healthy while traveling at kp.org/travel.