The foolproof plan for staying healthy while on vacation


Summer vacation travel is in full swing and you’ve spent weeks, maybe even months researching and coordinating your vacation destination plans.  One plan not to forget is to plan on how to stay healthy while you’re away from home.  Getting sick hundreds if not thousands of miles away from the convenience of familiar surroundings can put an immediate damper on your travel fun. 

To avoid this from happening to you, here are some strategies to stay well on your next vacation:

·      Check your health insurance coverage and have a copy of your health records

Will your medical insurance cover any unforeseen accidents or health conditions when on vacation? Most emergencies like a heart attack or broken bones should be covered outside of your network however a doctor visit may not be.  If traveling to a foreign country be aware you may have no coverage at all.  Travel health insurance may be one option particularly if you have a chronic health condition putting you more likely to have a health issue while away from home.

Anyone who has multiple health conditions and is taking prescription medications shouldhave a copy of their health record on hand.  Download your medical record to a thumb drive to keep with you enabling doctors instant access in case of an emergency.

·      Keep medications in your carry-on

Any medication you must take daily or regularly and can’t afford to lose, pack it away in a carry-on bag to have with you at all times.  Even if you don’t have to take a dose while in-flight, just in case your luggage is lost you still have your meds you need.

·      Outsmart germs

The best way to beat back germs is to frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  A hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol is another option for fending off germs. 

·      Be good to your back

Hauling and hoisting heavy suitcases takes a toll on your back.  Most suitcases have wheels reducing the time spent lugging a suitcase but be careful stowing one in an overhead bin on an airplane – hold the bag as close to your body as possible, bend at your hips and knees, then carefully raise it without twisting.

·      Keep moving

Don’t let deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism put a damper on your vacation itinerary.  The last thing you want to have happen while away from home is to develop a blood clot in a deep vein.  This can happen when traveling by car, boat, plane, or train, or anytime when you are sitting for long periods of time without moving which increases this risk.  Get up and walk around every 2 to 3 hours and exercise your legs while sitting: raise and lower heels while keeping toes on the floor and then do the opposite of raising and lowering toes while keeping heels on the floor.  Also flex and extend your feet several times each hour. 

·      Keep hydrated with water

Many of us may cut back on our fluid intake while traveling but this can only lead to dehydration leaving you feeling sluggish and fatigued.  If in a foreign country, stick with bottled water.  Aim for at least 6 to 8 cups of water a day.

·      Be choosy with food choices

Where ever you may be headed, enjoy the food - just don’t overindulge.  One of the highest likelihoods of sudden cardiac death is eating too much high fat, high calorie foods rich in triglycerides, a type of fat increasing after a large meal causing coronary artery inflammation. 

Also, prevent traveler’s diarrhea by eating hot, freshly prepared foods. 

·      Find time to exercise

Being away from home gets you away from your normal routine but don’t let it stall your workout schedule.  Take time each day to go on a long walk or hike on a nature trail, run on the beach, rent a bike, swim laps in the pool or sign up for a yoga or aerobics class the hotel or resort may offer.

·      Be proactive with a probiotic

Your gut bacteria have a significant role in keeping your immune system healthy so be sure you feed them the things they like in order to do their job.  By taking a probiotic found in food or a supplement, this can help reduce gas, bloating, and diarrhea.  Foods to consider are yogurt, soft cheeses like gouda, and kefir. If taking a probiotic supplement look for one containing lactobacilli and bifidobacteria with a total of at least 30 billion units – look on the label for this information.