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Taking a family vacation is great until someone gets sick. And it’s no surprise that it happens quite often. You are in a new location with different germs. You are around lots of strangers. And your kids are touching lots of surfaces they normally don’t encounter. But, it is possible to travel without getting sick! There are some things you can do to keep your family healthy while exploring the world. Here are our tips to stay healthy while traveling.
(We are not doctors and this article is not intended to be medical advice. These are simply common sense tips. Please consult your doctor for actual medical advice.)
Tip #1: Check travel advisories before leaving.
If you are going to be traveling abroad, be sure to check travel advisories before your departure.
Both the CDC and the State Department posts travel notices about various countries. These notices will help you determine whether you need any special vaccinations or medication prior to leaving, as well as inform you of any diseases in your destination that you need to be aware of.
Both the CDC and State Department also include tips to help you stay healthy while traveling on their websites.
Tip #2: Wash your hands often.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is always worth mentioning. Wash your hands (and your children’s hands) often while on vacation.
Use soap and warm water. Be sure to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds to get them really clean of germs.
Always wash your hands before eating, after using the restroom, after handling raw meat, and after touching live animals. You also want to wash them throughout the day as you are out and about in public.
And when you can’t wash your hands, use hand sanitizer.
Tip #3: Minimize the surfaces your children touch.
We all know that common surfaces in public places, such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, and stair railings, are hotbeds for germs.
So, help you family stay healthy while traveling by minimizing the number of surfaces you and your children touch while sightseeing.
Teach your little ones to not touch railings, counters, windows, and buttons unless they need to. By keeping their hands to themselves, they will decrease the number of germs that they pick up while out in public.
The fewer the germs you pick up, the less likely it is that you will get sick.
Tip #4: Stay hydrated.
The healthier you body is, the stronger your immune system is. The stronger the immune system, the less you will get sick. Part of staying healthy is staying hydrated.
Sometimes, when we travel, we are out of our normal routines, and sometimes forget to drink plenty of water. This is especially true during the summer when we are out in the hot sun for long periods of time.
So, give your body a fighting chance and stay hydrated.
Tip #5: Get plenty of rest.
Another thing that is hard to do when we are traveling is to get plenty of rest. But, this is a critical part of staying healthy when traveling. It is much harder for your body to fight off germs when it is rundown and exhausted.
So, be sure to take breaks and let your body get some rest while you are vacationing.
There are several ways you can slow down and catch up on your sleep while on a trip: sleep in one or two days, turn in early a few nights, or take some midday naps.
However you choose to do it, be sure to get those extra zzz’s to keep your system running at peak performance.
Tip #6: Don’t completely eliminate germs.
I know this tip will sound completely counterintuitive, but hear me out. Don’t completely eliminate germs from your daily existence.
Our immune systems work by building up defenses to germs they encounter. But if you sanitize everything around you all the time, your system can’t build up that immunity.
And if your system is weak, then when you do encounter germs, they will overtake your body and you will become sick. Protecting your family is a good thing, but don’t be too much of a germ killer.
Remember, it is ok (and actually good) for your kids to have contact with germs on a day-to-day basis.
Tip #7: Use bug repellent.
If you are going to be traveling to a location where mosquitoes or other bugs are common, be sure to take and use bug repellent. Many tropical locations have mosquitoes that carry diseases like malaria, dengue fever, or zika.
These are all serious diseases that can completely wreck your vacation, but they are preventable by simply using bug repellent on a regular basis.
Wearing appropriate clothing when outside, especially when hiking, can also help prevent bug bites.
Tip #8: Boost your immune system with good nutrition.
Another way to prepare your body to stay healthy when traveling is to boost your immune system with good nutrition while at home.
There are several foods that are packed with vitamins and minerals which strengthen your immune system. By adding these foods into your diet on a regular basis, you will naturally boost your immune system.
This will make it easier to fight off strange germs if and when you encounter them while traveling.
Some powerful immunity-boosting foods are: citrus, poultry, red bell peppers, garlic, kiwi, and ginger.
Travel is a fun way to spend quality time with your family. But, it can quickly turn into a nightmare if someone gets sick while on a trip or shortly after returning home.
While the above tips can’t guarantee that you won’t get sick, they are simple and smart ways to increase the odds that you and your family stay healthy while traveling. Like many things in life, a little prevention and preparation goes a long way to keeping you safe.
I hope these tips help you on your next trip. And, don’t forget, if you need medical advice, please consult a doctor or other medical professional.
For more travel safety tips, see our tips for road trips, hotels, airports, beach trips, how to travel safely when it’s not safe to travel, and how to keep your kids safe at Disney World. Happy travels!
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