Staying healthy while on the road is of great importance, especially in light of current events (I’m sure we have all heard about the coronavirus). Staying healthy can be a challenge for multiple reasons, including time constraints, getting in vacation mood when diet/exercise just doesn’t seem so important, and coming into contact with so many different people and new environments. Don’t let this discourage you, though. There are plenty of things we can do on a daily basis to maintain our health while on the road.
What Can You Do To Prevent Illness/Injury While On The Road?
Staying healthy, even while on the road, should be a priority. Staying healthy while traveling can be tricky, but is not impossible. Here are some things you can do on a regular basis to stay healthy:
1.) Bring the bug spray/sunscreen
Prevent unwanted mosquito bites and potential illness by loading up on the bug spray if you are going to be in an area that you know will be very buggy. Apply that sunscreen before hitting the beach or heading out into the sun for the day. This will prevent the inconvenience and discomfort of a nasty sunburn and in the long run will make for better skin.
2.) Carry a food allergy alert card
Carrying a food allergy alert card with your food allergies/intolerances listed in both your native language and the language of the country you are visiting will help reduce the risk of you accidentally consuming something that will be harmful to you. Carrying a card with the allergy in the native language of your destination will prevent error because of a language barrier. You can also alert people to your food preferences with this method, such as a vegetarian or vegan diet.
3.) Incorporate exercise into your trip
Vacations can get very busy and with all the excitement it is quite easy to forget or overlook your routine exercise routines. It may be difficult to set aside time for exercise like you would do while your home, but it is doable. Get up a little earlier in the morning and go for a run or choose activities throughout the day that will get you some exercise, such as hiking or kayaking. A good pointer is to plan your exercise for the day in the morning to prevent yourself from becoming too busy later in the day and skipping your workout.
4.) Get plenty of sleep
Sleeping is a necessity…whether traveling or not. But sleep while traveling can become very challenging, especially when crossing time zones and experiencing jet lag. Getting enough sleep is essential for all aspects of health and will recharge you and make your day more enjoyable.
5.) Make healthy food choices
You’ve heard it said…you are what you eat! What you put into your body is going to have a major impact on your health and level of energy. Traveling, especially if you are an adventure traveler, can take a lot of energy. Make food choices that are going to contribute to your health and help build your immune system as well as keep your energy levels high (that doesn’t mean drink caffeine all day!)
6.) Drink plenty of water
Water is essential for your body to function, make sure that you are drinking plenty of it throughout the day. If you are going to be spending a lot of time outdoors in the heat plan to pack extra, you don’t want to get dehydrated. On these types of days I like to drink continuously.
7.) Keep the germs away
Use hand sanitizer and wipes. Take a little extra precaution before touching things such as seat belts or shopping carts and wipe them down. This can prevent the transmit of disease to you. And don’t be afraid to use that hand sanitizer, doing so frequently can prevent you from getting sick.
8.) Make sure you are up to date on vaccines and have gotten destination specific vaccines
Vaccinations can be a touchy subject, but I would recommend that you always check the alerts and recommendations for travel to your destination to make sure that you are protected. I will not tell anyone that they have to get the vaccines, but I would recommend that if you are traveling to a destination that has recommendations for a specific disease that you take the necessary precautions, whether it be medication or vaccination.
9.) Take some time to yourself
Relax! It is essential for good health. If you are a “busy traveler” like me, you can sometimes forget to take some time to relax and simply enjoy your destination. Take a couple hours and go to a spa or spend an afternoon relaxing on the beach. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it is something that you enjoy and will allow you to recharge your energy!
10.) Always have safety on the mind
A little bit of a different aspect, but just as important is to always be on the look out while traveling. Be aware of your surroundings and pay attention if something looks suspicious. Trust your gut-it is usually right. Do not put yourself into situations where you increase your chances of being harmed. When participating in adventure tours, sports, etc., make sure you are taking the recommendation safety precautions. Have fun, but have safety in your mind always!
11.) Take a daily vitamin
This is a simple task, but it could help give your body a boost and keep you feeling great. Make sure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs on a daily basis to help support your immune system and prevent illness.
12.) Choose Healthy Snacks
Vacation can sometimes (okay-most of the time) be used an excuse to not watch our diets. I am far too guilty of this myself. When road tripping you want to bring snacks that are going to make your mouth happy, but this is not always the best option. Try to choose a balance between the not so healthy foods and then the healthy snacks, such as fresh fruits or veggies.
13.) Don’t be afraid to wear a mask
Especially during flu season don’t be afraid to wear a mask if you feel you need one. You can find disposable masks at many drug or medical supply stores, it doesn’t hurt to have one handy. If you are in a confined area (such as a flight) with someone you think may be ill don’t hesitate to put a mask on. It may make you feel a little foolish, but in the long run it will keep you healthy and ready to enjoy your destination!
14.) Watch the alcohol
I will not tell you to refrain from drinking-hey, you earned it! But be smart about how much you are drinking and where. Don’t drink so much that your judgement is impaired and people can take advantage of it. Always make sure that you have a back up for getting back to your accommodations. If you are drinking-I think it goes without saying-don’t drive.
What Should You Do If You Become Ill Or Get Injured While Traveling?
Getting sick or injured while traveling is still a very real possibility despite all actions you might take to prevent it. In the case that you do become ill/injured you will want to be prepared to deal with it. Here is what you should consider having with you while on the road (just in case):
- An antibiotic ointment (such as Neosporin)
- A fever/pain combination reducer (such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen)
- Motion sickness remedy
- Anti-itch cream
- Allergy relief medication
- Flu/Cold relief medication
- An anti-diarrhea medication
- A thermometer
1.) Contact your embassy
If you become ill in a foreign country, contact the embassy and they will be able to provide you with direction on local healthcare options and can assist you with things such as notifying your family and arranging transportation.
2.) Begin taking medication right away
I am one who will avoid taking medication if it is not absolutely necessary, but when traveling a delay in taking medication can equal more of your vacation ruined. If you visit a medical provider and they order something, begin it right away. If it is a minor illness and you can take something over-the-counter don’t hesitate to do so. It can help with getting you to feel better sooner and able to enjoy more of your trip.
3.) Protect those traveling with you
Take the necessary precautions to protect those in your travel group from coming down with the same illness as you. Wash your hands, cover your mouth, wear a mask if necessary. The less people that become ill the better your trip will be.
4.) Realize that the illness is temporary and don’t let the thought ruin your trip
Unless you have a major illness or injury, you will likely recover within a couple days and be able to enjoy the remainder of your trip. Don’t let the thought of being sick ruin your mood or attitude about the trip. Take advantage of it-enjoy some time in the hotel room and take advantage of the amenities. If you have a spa tube, use it! If you can order room service, do it! Don’t be afraid to enjoy yourself, even if you are sick.
***Tip: Check your insurance (medical) before traveling. Know what your insurance will and won’t cover. Find out if it will apply internationally. If you need to, purchase supplementary insurance that will cover you on your travels. Also make sure that you check out your travel insurance and what it will cover. If you are spending a great deal of time and money on your trip you will want to have a back up if things fall through due to illness/injury.
****These tips are in no way medical advice and should not take the place of a medical professional.****