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Healthy Travel Tips You Absolutely Need

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Healthy Travel Tips You Absolutely Need

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Everyone gets ready and excited to pack their bags when the vacation is approaching. It is equally important to take care of one’s health while traveling.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sneha Kannan

Published At August 16, 2018
Reviewed AtAugust 9, 2023

Introduction:

A vacation is incomplete without traveling and having fun with one’s loved ones. On the other hand, no one would ever want to get sick when on a fun expedition. How can one stay healthy while traveling? This article discusses certain tips that one can follow while traveling so that one can experience a hassle-free vacation. Taking care of one’s health is necessary before, during, and after the trip. A majority of travel-related illnesses can be overcome by taking appropriate preventive measures and vaccinations.

What Are the Key Elements of Pre-travel Advice?

In a few countries, pre-travel advice is given at specialized travel clinics or primary health care settings by a nurse. The key elements of pre-travel advice include:

  • Health risk assessment.

  • Health promotion and management of risks.

  • Sexually transmitted infections and accidents.

  • Necessary vaccinations.

Those at high risk like those visiting friends and relatives with co-morbidities, very young and the elderly, and pregnant women need to be very safe while planning to travel.

What Are the Main Risk Factors While Traveling?

The main risk factors are as follows:

  • Water quality.

  • Humidity.

  • Temperature.

  • Exposure to multi-resistant microorganisms.

To overcome all the health-related issues while traveling, it would be better if a branch of medicine named ‘travel medicine’ is developed.

What Is the Status of Access to Pre-travel Healthcare?

Surveys show that about 50 % of people traveling to less-developed countries look for pre-travel health advice. The number of people seeking pre-travel healthcare is low due to poor knowledge about health-related issues while traveling, and lack of access to primary care and the Internet.

The number of people seeking pre-travel health advice varies among different people and is least among migrants who travel to their country of origin to visit their relatives and friends. This category of people is susceptible to developing the most common tropical infections when compared to other travelers and hence these people should be aimed specifically for pre-travel advice.

How Is Risk Assessment Done?

The risk of acquiring an infection depends on the area to be visited, nature or purpose of travel, expected activities, type of stay, endemicity of diseases, duration of the trip, health condition of the traveler, current medications, immunization, and history of allergies. The risk assessment is done as follows:

  • About 80-95 % of travelers traveling to the tropical regions take short-term visits which are less than a month and the remaining 5-20 % people stay for a longer duration either for work or traveling purposes (like those working in the armed forces, missionaries, volunteers, and so on). Some people can even go on repeated short-term visits like businessmen, and airline staff.

  • The above groups of people are exposed to different risks based on their environment and individual behavior. Those who stay for a long duration in a particular location are more prone to acquire endemic infections that are prevalent in that particular region.

  • The risk factors also have a sex predilection with males being most commonly affected except for traveler’s diarrhea, which is more prevalent in females.

  • The geographical area also contributes to the risk of the travelers. For example, those traveling to Africa may be exposed to Plasmodium falciparum malaria as it is common in this region. Similarly, Plasmodium vivax and diarrheal illness may be prevalent in travelers traveling to South Asia, and cutaneous leishmaniasis may be common in travelers visiting Latin America.

  • The risk factors can also differ within a particular country. For example, the risk of malaria may be negligible in Nairobi but can be high on the Kenyan coast.

  • With the advancement of media, people all over the world have become aware of recent outbreaks like Ebola, Zika, yellow fever, and Middle East respiratory syndrome. Though most travelers might be at low risk of developing these infections, they can contribute to the transmission of the disease.

It is advisable that one reads about the outbreaks in a particular country before heading to a particular destination. This information can be learnt through the respective health websites of the particular country and even on the website of the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and so on.

What Are the Steps to Be Taken Before One Plans to Travel?

The following are the steps to be taken:

  • Find out if any outbreak is prevalent in the particular destination. It is also important to assess one’s health before planning a trip. One can transmit the infection to others when sick, hence, it is better to avoid traveling at that time.

  • One can make an appointment with their family practitioner and get the necessary medicines, and destination-specific vaccines, at least a month before one leaves.

  • Ensure that one is up-to-date on their usual vaccines like the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. Infectious diseases like measles can get transmitted quickly among unvaccinated people.

  • Travel insurance that covers healthcare needs even in other countries should be availed.

  • Copies of important travel documents like credit cards, passports, the address of the accommodation, contact information, and other details should be shared with someone at home so that they can reach the individual in case of any emergencies. Travelers should also carry their emergency contact list with them at all times.

  • Getting enrolled with the state’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) if any.

  • A travel health kit containing prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, a first aid kit, insect repellent, sunscreen, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, a health insurance card, and water disinfection tablets, should be maintained.

What Are the Tips to Be Followed While Traveling?

The following are the tips to be followed:

  • Carry a bottle of mineral water so that one can keep sipping some fluid and remain hydrated all day.

  • Fruits such as apples, pears, oranges, and strawberries can be carried for a healthy mid-morning snack, and dry fruits can be eaten with green tea.

  • Some dry snacks like legumes, roasted soy nuts, puffed rice, roasted fox nuts, whole wheat spiced crackers, plain popcorn, dry fruits, and so on, can be had in between major meals in case one cannot get fruits.

  • One must ensure that they do not miss any of the major meals.

  • Eating curries and rice for lunch is better than having it for dinner. Start with salads always. Take less rice and more curry.

  • Beverages like buttermilk, coconut water, lemon soda, and fruit smoothies (if available) can be preferred rather than carbonated soft drinks.

  • In case one ends up eating a high-calorie meal, ensure that one eats in small portions and keeps the next meal light.

  • Protein bars like yoga bars, granola bars, or dry fruits can serve as an easy, handy snack.

  • Do avoid the intake of sauces, ketchup, mayonnaise, and salty food items as they are packed with invisible fats and salt which would also contribute to water retention.

  • One can stick to a five-meal pattern to keep oneself light and active the whole day.

  • Consume lots of water and other fluids which will protect the skin from the harmful rays of the sun and keep the skin ever glowing.

  • One must be safe while traveling by wearing seat belts and appropriate car seats should be kept ready for children.

  • Insect repellants should be kept handy to avoid bug bites.

  • Hot foods, dry and packaged foods, bottled, canned, and hot drinks are considered safe to consume.

  • Sunscreen containing SPF (sun protection factor) 15 can be used to protect oneself from UV (ultraviolet) rays especially while traveling to regions with hot climates.

  • Washing the hands regularly using soap and water can prevent the entry of germs into the body. In case of unavailability of soap and water, a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol can be used.

  • Avoid getting close to local farm animals, pets, and wild animals as the animal bites from these animals can be associated with bacterial infections apart from the risk of rabies.

  • Drowning has been the leading cause of death when traveling. Hence, one must adhere to the water safety recommendations while swimming, boating, and diving.

  • Getting the flu vaccine before traveling minimizes the risk of developing flu. It requires about two weeks for the flu shot to get into action, hence one must get it at least a month before the proposed date of travel.

  • Getting plenty of sleep is very essential. If the travel destination differs in time zone, one can get accustomed to this by slowly adjusting their bedtime and waking times at least a week before the trip. If this is not possible, one can have a light meal on the flight, can stay hydrated, and avoid taking alcohol or caffeine.

Conclusion:

Adults, as well as children, look forward to spending a rejoicing vacation by traveling to different places and exploring a particular destination. Young children are more prone to acquire many infections. Hence, planning well before, and during the travel is extremely important. By following certain simple tips mentioned above, one can be completely prepared to enjoy an ecstatic vacation with their loved ones. Above all, a safe and healthy trip is what beautifies the entire trip.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

How to Stay Healthy During Travel?

The most important routine to be followed while traveling is to wear appropriate clothing and carry a water bottle to prevent dehydration. In addition, emergency medications like painkillers, digestion lozenges, and antibiotics can be useful. Always carry a sanitizer and practice good hygiene to stay healthy during travel.

2.

What Are the Five Mandatory Things to Do Before Traveling?

The mandatory things to be followed before traveling:
- Check the weather forecast and pack dresses accordingly.
- Always carry refillable water bottles.
- Keep allergy and cold medications handy.
- Pack some granola bars, as they are easy-to-eat and quick snacks rich in proteins and nutrition.
- Finally, carry an umbrella or a raincoat.

3.

How to Keep Away From Sickness While Traveling?

Falling sick during travel may ruin the trip. Avoid overeating, drink only bottled water to prevent infections, and avoid food consumption from unhygienic places. Wash your hands regularly and carry disinfectant spray. Also, wear masks for safety and protection.

4.

What Is Traveler’s Diarrhea, and How to Prevent It?

The traveler’s diarrhea is a bacterial infection. Avoid food contaminated with insects and thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables before eating them raw. Avoid ice, as it could be from unclean sources.

5.

Is There Any Anxiety Associated With Travel?

Individuals with previous bad experiences may have anxiety associated with travel. Also, individuals with motion sickness may feel nauseous during the trip. Other causes of anxiety include fear of heights and noise produced by aircraft.

6.

Which Vitamins Can Be Helpful During Travel?

Take probiotics as they help to maintain the essential bacteria in the gut and aid digestion. Carry multivitamins to boost the immune system and avoid infections. In addition, vitamin C and zinc supplements can be helpful.

7.

Is It a Must to Take Zinc Before Traveling?

Zinc helps to fight various bacteria and viruses. Hence it is essential to take zinc before traveling as it boosts the immune system. It also helps to heal wounds efficiently and helps with clotting.

8.

Is It Common to Fall Sick After Traveling?

Due to climatic changes, and varying time zones, most people fall sick after long journeys. Also, inadequate sleep and a poor immune system may contribute to the sickness. However, adequate rest can help revive the health condition and return to the daily routine.

9.

Does Traveling Influence the Immune System?

Frequent travel for work and constant climatic changes may affect the immune system. However, traveling for a vacation tends to boost energy levels. Eating meals regularly and getting adequate sleep can help to maintain quality health.

10.

Why Do Doctors Ask for Travel History

The prevalence of a disease may vary with each country. In addition, during travel, an individual may get highly exposed to various infections specific to that region. Hence, a travel history can help with prompt diagnosis.
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Quadros Krystel Godfrey Lavina
Quadros Krystel Godfrey Lavina

Dietician

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