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Staying Healthy While You Travel

How to Stay Healthy as You Travel

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Updated June 19, 2013

Whether you are on the road for business or pleasure, getting sick is probably not in your plans. While every illness may not be avoidable, there are some steps you can take to stay healthy while you travel.

1. Wash your hands

You may hear this everywhere you go, but it is the single best way to prevent the spreading of disease. Whether you are traveling to another city or another country, washing your hands properly and often is your best defense against germs.

2. Bring your hand sanitizer

There will be times when soap and water are not available. But that doesn't mean you have to be dirty. Instant hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes are a great option if you can't wash your hands and your hands are not visibly dirty.

3. Bring your tissues

If you do get a cold, having your own tissues will help protect those around you. Make sure you sneeze into a tissue or your arm (not your hands!) and then throw the tissue away. Washing your hands after you sneeze or blow your nose will also help protect those you come in contact with as well as yourself.

4. Schedule a travel consultation with your doctor

Depending on your destination, certain illnesses may be prevelant that are not a concern in the US. Many of these illnesses can be prevented with vaccinations or medications. Be sure to check into what shots may be required and make an appointment with your doctor before you go.

5. Pay attention to public health and travel advisories

Pay attention to public health and travel advisories. Certain places in the world do not have drinking water that is as clean as ours. Do some research about your destination before you go. Find out whether you should avoid the water, or any other food or drink, and you will minimize your risk of catching a stomach virus. Believe me, that will ruin your vacation in a hurry.

It may be that a travel advisory will be in effect for the country you are traveling to. Find out what the disease is and how to avoid it, whether it means avoiding certain regions or entire countries.

6. Avoid all water, when necessary

If you do need to avoid the water, don't forget about water in other forms. Be sure to ask for "no ice" and avoid drinks and foods that may have water added, but have not been boiled.

7. Stay hydrated

Even if you can't drink the local tap water, drinking plenty of water (bottled, if necessary) is essential to staying hydrated. Especially if you are in a warm climate, such as the beach, drinking lots of water (8 to 10 glasses per day) will keep you feeling good. Dehydration can lead to serious health problems and even death if it is not corrected, so drink up.

8. If you or your traveling companions are sick before you go, stay home

We aren't talking about a little runny nose, but if you have a fever or a contagious illness, do your best to avoid exposing other people. It is hard to cancel plans at the last minute, especially if they are vacation plans, but going away while you are sick will only make others sick too. And you aren't likely to enjoy yourself if you are stuck in bed anyway.

Sources:

Traveler's Health.National Center for Infectious Diseases, Division of Global Migration and Quarantine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 18 Jun 2007.

Traveler's Diarrhea. Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases / Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases 21 Nov 2006. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 18 Jun 2007.

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