Four Tips to Staying Healthy While Traveling

Published: Wednesday, July 20, 2022
Family Medicine Resident Physician

Summer’s here and with more relaxed travel guidelines you may be thinking of traveling further than you have in the past few years. When you’re on vacation it is easy to get into some habits that may compromise your health. If you are gearing up for a trip, here are four tips to staying healthy while traveling.

Beating the Heat

With the summer months comes summer heat. Heat in combination with being more active while on vacation may mean that you need to take extra breaks during activity. With those extra breaks, be sure to stay hydrated with water to offset any water lost through sweat to prevent dehydration. For overall healthy individuals it is important to get at least six to eight cups (8 oz in a cup) of water per day. In the summer months, you may need due to the heat, sweating, and being more active. Fresh fruits and vegetables are also good sources of water.

Another tip to beat the heat and sun is to make sure you have adequate sun protection. This includes sunscreen, sun protective clothing such as hats, sunglasses, long sleeves, and finding shaded areas outside. If you are indoors most of the day, a broad-spectrum SPF 15 or higher will protect you from UV light coming in through windows. If you are spending a lot of time outdoors, a water-resistant, broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher is recommended to prevent sun damage. Sun damage over time can increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States affecting one in five Americans. Daily sunscreen use is recommended for everyone over the age of six months, so don’t forget to reapply that sunscreen throughout the day to get maximum sun protection!

Keeping the Balance

Vacation is a time of trying new and delicious foods, but it is often easy to overindulge on things you normally wouldn’t eat. Trying new or rich foods can sometimes lead to an upset digestive system. This could lead to fatigue and other issues which could prevent you from enjoying your activities on vacation. To prevent an upset stomach, treat special meals as special and keep the rest of your diet close to normal (well balanced with plenty of fruits and vegetables of course!)

Check out this article for more information on eating healthy on vacation.

Getting those Zzzz’s

Make sure you are getting good sleep. It is easy to put off sleep on vacation in order to fit more activities into the day, but that can often leave you tired and unable to enjoy your vacation. Leave enough room in your travel itinerary for sleep to prevent fatigue. Prepare yourself by bringing some familiar objects that help you fall asleep, like a book, your personal pillowcase, a fan to help you stay cool, or a blanket to help you stay warm. Get enough sleep and be ready to have a fun filled day the next day!

Let’s fly!

An overseas vacation can be a dream come true for many, but with international travel comes exposure to new bacteria or viruses that are not widespread in the US. The CDC offers guidance on travel vaccinations based on the country you are planning on visiting. Also, don’t forget to be up to date on your regular vaccinations especially if you are traveling with children.

New bacteria and viruses can be spread through water sources, so be sure you are drinking filtered water and washing your hands regularly to prevent the spread of germs. Raw fruits and vegetables that have been washed with local tap water may be a hidden source of virus or bacteria. This can cause gastrointestinal problems as well. Before eating fruits and vegetables, make sure they have been washed with filtered water. Be cautious of street foods, food carts, or food that has been out in the heat for a long time as these can be sources for infection.

Long distance travel (travel more than four hours) without movement can also increase your risk of forming blood clots in the legs. And if the clot travels to your lungs it can be life-threatening. If you are on a plane, get up and walk down the aisle frequently to keep the blood flowing through your legs. Consider wearing compression socks to help with blood circulation. Staying hydrated can also prevent fatigue and the formation of blood clots. If you are traveling by car, make frequent breaks at a rest stop or gas stations to stretch out those muscles and get a few steps in!

Additional Resources

The District 2 Health Department along with your primary care doctor are great resources to find information about travel health. The CDC also provides guidelines about recommended vaccines for different areas of travel. Check out the CDC guidelines for travel

Traveling is a lot of fun but can be stressful if you aren’t feeling well on your trip. Hopefully with these tips, you can ensure you and your family stay healthy while on vacation. Enjoy these summer months and most importantly have fun!