As COVID-19 restrictions start to get lifted all over the world, and the prospect of long distance travel becomes part of the conversation once more, a lot of us have begun to create our future travel plans.
Even if you don’t plan on going on vacation in the near future, never underestimate the power of anticipation. Now, more than ever, we all need to have something to look forward to. And starting to think about where you’d next like to take yourself and your family can make the immediate future far more palatable.
When planning a vacation, it’s important to plan around not just our wish lists of things we want to see and do, but also around safeguarding our health.
We need to remember:
Health problems can ruin your vacation!
Whether it’s a serious problem like an injury or allergic reaction or something relatively minor like stomach ache or diarrhea, health problems can prove ruinous to your vacation. At best, they can limit what you’re able to do, causing you pain or discomfort while effectively wasting the money you’ve spent traveling. At worst they can prove debilitating or even fatal. If you are injured or fall sick while traveling overseas, and don’t have a valid travel insurance policy, you’ll find that it has long term financial ramifications.
It is up to you to be as proactive as possible before you set off and while you’re on your travels to safeguard your health and protect every aspect of your wellbeing.
Make sure you know what vaccinations and boosters you need
If you’re traveling overseas, you may need to get certain immunizations or booster shots.
Most destinations in North America, Canada, Europe and Australia do not need vaccinations, but many countries in Asia, Africa and South America may have strains of illnesses to which your body has not been able to build a natural immunity. One of the most common and potentially most serious of these is malaria. Malaria is transmitted by mosquitos who drink the blood of tourists after feeding on the blood of infected animals.
Nobody’s going to remind you to do this. You need to be proactive about it. The CDC has some pretty comprehensive info on what vaccinations you and your family will need, although you should always ask your doctor if in doubt.
Keep bugs at bay
Speaking of malaria, it’s one of the most compelling reasons to keep bugs away from you while traveling. However, it’s by no means the only reason. Other insect-bourne illnesses include dengue fever, yellow fever, West Nile Virus and encephalitis (which can cause permanent damage to the central nervous system and has a 30-60% mortality). Make sure you carry plenty of insect repellent spray.
Protect yourself from the sun
One of the primary reasons we like to get away is to relax and enjoy ourselves in the sun. But while the sun can bring us great pleasure (as well as the Vitamin D boost that many of us have been sorely lacking), it can also be hazardous to our health. At the very least, failing to protect your skin from the sun’s rays can leave it damaged, red, dry and sore. At the worst, it can accelerate the rate at which your skin ages, and even increase your risk of melanoma.
Make sure that you carry sunscreen of an appropriate protection factor (SPF) for your skin tone. The American Cancer Society recommends an SPF of 30 or higher, especially for young children whose skin is especially vulnerable. You should also moisturize your skin when you get out of the sun.
And don’t forget that it’s not just your skin that you should protect from sun damage. Your eyes are also very vulnerable.
Sunglasses protect your eyes from glare from the sun both directly and when reflected off surfaces like water and sand. The UVA and UVB rays in sunlight can do damage to the tissues in and around your eyes over time, increasing the risk of cancerous growth in the eyelids and premature aging and wrinkling of the skin around the eyes.
By all means indulge… but try and eat well
Your vacation time is a time for you to explore new places, not just with your eyes but with your palate. Part of the appeal of traveling is being able to indulge in delicious new cuisines. But even though we usually associate vacations with indulgence, there’s a lot to be said for moderation.
There are lots of easy and affordable ways in which you can eat healthily while traveling and still enjoy the odd indulgent treat. For every meal where you treat yourself, try and get at least two which are packed with fresh veggies, fruits wholegrains and other vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Not only will it keep you looking and feeling good it will prevent issues with bloating, nausea, sickness and diarrhea.
Think before you drink
Finally, it’s vital that you think before you drink. There are a number of ways in which you can interpret this. For starters, think twice before drinking alcohol excessively, especially in hot weather. This can leave you feeling extremely sick and dehydrated. But it also applies to drinking water.
Not every country has a high enough standard of tap water that it is safe to drink. If you tend to have a sensitive stomach, not only should you exclusively drink bottled water, you should also wash fruit and brush your teeth with it, too.