There are many destinations around the world to travel this summer, but depending on where you go, in many countries health and safety are not as much of a priority as in the United States.
No matter the destination or your ethnicity, it’s important to remember to observe a few things in regard to safe travel. For the most part, eating right, exercise, and being aware of your surroundings will play a big part in keeping you healthy while on the road.
Many folks gain weight while traveling since it’s harder to eat healthy while sitting on airplanes or waiting in airports. Don’t throw caution to the wind even if stressed out, particularly for Hispanic and African American women who are more susceptible to an increase in heart problems.
Exercise while traveling even if it is only 20 minutes a day or a quick lap around the hotel pool. Many hotels have gyms so a treadmill and weights are easy to find. At the very least do some low impact cardio in your hotel room and walk while on vacation versus driving when it is safe to do so.
Be sure to concentrate on proper nutrition while traveling, and stay away from fast food and junk food and pack a multivitamin.
At www.fda.gov it notes healthy travel requires planning, preparation, self-discipline, and vigilance. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) keeps a constant look out for problem areas, but there are some tips that are just common sense too.
Don’t buy medicines abroad since many drugs sold in developing countries contain impure or toxic ingredients. United States embassies can often recommend physicians if needed, although the amount of help they are able to provide may vary.
Always be sure and take an ample supply of any medications you take as well as a few days extra in case of travel delays, and keep prescription and over-the-counter medications in their original packaging to avoid problems with border officials.
While in developing nations avoid tap water in any form, including ice, water in mixed drinks and when brushing your teeth. In developing countries, amoebas and other parasites or even the virus that causes hepatitis may contaminate the water, which means that even a small amount of infected water can make you sick.
Safe beverages include boiled water, hot beverages, and bottled water. Stay away from raw fruits and vegetables too since these items may have been rinsed with unclean tap water. Only eat cooked foods that are still hot or peeled fruit.
Often folks will eat off the vendor carts while traveling; this is a no-no, particularly when it comes to dairy products or foods that require refrigeration like meat, poultry, and eggs.
A number of illnesses can occur, but one of the most common symptoms to watch for is diarrhea, but it like most others are treatable with over-the-counter, "upset-stomach" products brought from home like Lomotil, Imodium, and Kaopectate. Remember too; drink lots of fluids to prevent dehydration.
Mosquito-borne diseases are also dangerous and range from malaria, to yellow fever, dengue, and Japanese B encephalitis. To avoid mosquitoes bring mosquito repellent with DEET, wear long sleeve shirts, long pants, and sleep in a bed protected by mosquito netting
When packing bring a medical kit with prescription medications, health insurance cards, proof of immunizations (if needed), travel insurance documents, and emergency medical supplies. Pack sunscreen, insect repellent, anti-diarrheal medication, pain/fever medication, antihistamines, and decongestants, antacid tablets, motion sickness medication, and first aid supplies.
Finally, wash your hands often, particularly before eating, after touching your face, after handling money or items that are on the ground and after traveling by public transport. Carry antibacterial hand wipes or gel cleanser for situations where hot water and soap are not available. Washing your hands frequently is the best way to avoid catching a communicable disease.
Though it’s not likely you will pick up a deadly disease while traveling, make sure your immune system is able to handle the jet lag, which can also make you sick. It’s vacation so get rest, drink lots of water, avoid extreme heat or cold, and most important, don’t stress just have a good time.