Whether for work or pleasure, frequent travel is becoming increasingly common for most of us. Travel is exciting, exhausting, stressful, rejuvenating and everything in between, and with time zone changes, busy schedules, increased stress, disruption of routines and so on, there is an increased likelihood of falling sick. Nothing is worse than being far from home and unwell, so here are three keys to staying healthy during your travels.
1. Prepare before you leave
There are several simple things you can do before leaving for your trip that will not only keep you physically safe and healthy, but will also support your mental health, reducing stress both before and during your travels.
Make sure there are a few key people who know where you’re going and how to get in contact with you.
Have a travel health consultation to discuss the recommended and required vaccinations, as well malaria protection, if necessary for your destination country
Communicate with your bank so that you’re able to use your credit and/or debit cards. If you need to pay for unexpected medical care, you don’t want to be in a situation where your card is blocked.
Make sure your health insurance includes coverage in your destination country. And if it doesn’t, purchase travel insurance.
Keep updated on your training in CPR and basic first-aid.
2. Don’t forget the basics
When you’re off on your next travel adventure, it can be easy to overlook the simple ways to prevent illness. You’re out of your routine, events aren’t always in your control, and your body clock might be completely off because of a time change. With all the newness around you, make sure you don’t neglect the basics.
Just as if you were home, make sure that you are:
Drinking enough water -- and that the water you’re consuming is safe
Getting enough sleep
Taking your regular medications on time
Protecting yourself from the sun
Holding to common-sense transportation safety precautions, including wearing a seatbelt/helmet and using a car seat, as accidents are one of the most common causes of health problems for travellers
It’s surprisingly easy to ignore these simple things when travelling, so a little bit of attention to our basic needs can make all the difference.
3. Expect the unexpected
Just because things go well most of the time, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared for the worst. There’s no need to go to the unhealthy extreme of being paranoid or suspicious, but thinking critically as your travel can save you from a lot of pain.
Be aware of the types of foods to avoid, like fresh fruits and vegetables that may not have been cleaned or food that is not steaming hot. If you can't peel it, then don't eat it. Also avoid things like buffet food, where there’s no way of knowing how long it’s been sitting out.
Drink bottled water at all times, even when cleaning your teeth. Water-borne diseases are very common and will not only make your travel very uncomfortable, but can also result in serious illness.
Carry a first-aid kit. Even a simple medical kit with bandages, anti-diarrheal tablets, rehydration salts, and other basic supplies can make all the difference in a stressful or scary situation.
With a bit of planning before you leave and by remaining attentive to your health needs as you travel, you can ensure that your travel experience is memorable in all the right ways.