With Summer Vacation in Mind: Tips to Avoid Travel Illness
Nothing throws a damper on your summer vacation like falling ill. You’ve saved up money for months, gathered up your loved ones and headed off to make memories that will last a lifetime. Not so fast. Depending on where you travel, your best laid plans can fall victim to several different types of bacteria, viruses and/or infections. According to NBC News, at least 40 percent of travelers to undeveloped countries will get diarrhea during their trip. Other illnesses include E.coli contamination, food poisoning, influenza and even malaria. In order to avoid these travel illnesses here are a few tips to follow while vacationing.
1. If traveling abroad, get your vaccinations
Vaccinations and medications for bacterial and viral infections are available at your doctor’s office and are highly recommended when traveling abroad. Your body is not accustomed to many of the new bacteria it will encounter in a new country. Some of the major shots you should look into are influenza, measles, mumps, typhoid, tetanus, and hepatitis A. There is no vaccine for malaria but there are repellants and medications you can take to minimize your chances of infection.
2. Stay hydrated and drink only bottled water
Many travel illnesses occur from water contamination. Try to avoid drinking from public facilities or even ordering water from your waiter. Stick to store-bought bottled water that has been purified and sealed. This will greatly decrease your chances of illness. Also, you’ll want to drink enough electrolytes to replace all the fluids you’re losing while traveling.
3. Only eat well-cooked food and avoid dairy, poultry and unwashed fruits and vegetables
It may be tempting to try and fit in with the culture around you, but it’s still best to avoid buying food from street vendors. Only eat fruits and vegetables that you have washed, peeled and prepared yourself. Also, you’ll want to be very careful with uncooked meat. Be sure to not eat any raw meat or unpasteurized dairy. Regardless of your travel location, food poisoning is common.
4. Wash, wash, wash your hands
This may seem simple but its importance cannot be understated. Infection preventionist Tammy Powers recommends frequent hand washing and hand sanitizer use after every trip to a public area. This should be done with diligence. Think of all the times you touch a door handle, a sink faucet or another’s hand. Potentially harmful bacteria are practically just a touch away. Stick to the basics and wash your hands.
Every necessary precaution should be taken to prevent travel illness. It’s best to take a lot of Vitamin C supplements as well. This can build up your immune system and be a strong line of defense against pathogens. More importantly, take care of your body and be smart about traveling. You’ll be glad you did.