Preventing getting sick when travelling

Tracey Sullivan Pharmacy Features Writer

There is nothing worse than getting sick while on holiday. After weeks of planning and much anticipation, you want to be feeling in top form when out exploring new sights or lazing by the pool, rather than spending any of your holiday time sick in bed.

Here are a few simple pre-holiday, in-flight, and on-holiday tips that may help you avoid wasting those precious, well-earned holidays:

Keep healthy before you go
Limit late nights, maximise healthy eating and don’t get tired and rundown during holiday planning. Rest up, take your vitamins and get some decent sleep, as lots of sleep keeps your immune system healthy.

Keep germ-free
Take small bottles of hand sanitisers with you in your carry-on luggage (and a big bottle in your suitcase so you can top up the little bottles when they get low).Try and remember to use frequently – before meals and after toilet stops. Use it to clean the armrests and tray table of your seat, if flying. Wipe down TV remotes and telephone receivers in hotel rooms. Keep away from visibly sick people who are coughing and sneezing.

Use a face mask
More and more people are choosing to use a face mask as a way of decreasing contact with foreign viruses and bacteria, especially those being distributed around cabin air. Choose a mask that can filter high particulate matter (i.e. very small particles like bacteria and viruses), not just dust. There are many masks now available that are specifically designed for travel.

Keep hydrated
Cabin air on aeroplanes can be very dry. Make sure you drink lots, and regularly, even if you don’t feel particularly thirsty, avoiding caffeine, alcohol and salty snacks. Drinking water helps your body get rid of toxins, and can help decrease your risk of sickness. Regular fluid intake can help you from getting dehydrated and headachy, and minimise the effects of jet lag. Dehydration can contribute to some of the symptoms of jet lag such as fatigue, difficulty concentrating, stomach problems and mood changes, and make jet lag symptoms worse.

Get vaccinated
If leaving the country, make sure you don’t need any specific vaccinations. Check with your travel agent or a travel doctor, well in advance of travel. It might be worth getting the flu vaccine as well.

Be careful of what you eat and drink
To try and avoid unexpected tummy troubles, vomiting, diarrhoea and headaches, eat food that is completely cooked through and served hot, eat fruit and vegetables that you have washed and peeled yourself. Check that water is safe to drink, and wash food with. Eat and drink dairy products that have been pasteurised, and drink beverages that have been bottled and sealed. Assume that tap water isn’t safe, and be careful when brushing teeth as it may be best to use bottled water. Carry a reusable water bottle with a built-in filter with you.

Boost your immunity
Cabin air is very dry and continually circulates micro-organisms. Keeping nasal passages moist by using a nasal spray helps with the body’s own germ-flushing ability. Remember to pack your Vitamin C and multivitamins (as well as any prescribed medicines).

Wash hands
Wash your hands often, preferably in hot soapy water. Do this every time you touch public things such as door handles, hand rails, pin-pads on money machines or public toilet doors and taps. If there is no access to hot water and soap, use your hand sanitiser.

Slow down
Pace yourself! Don’t pack your itinerary so full that you leave yourself no time for rest and self-care. Holidays are not the time to be stressed.

This blog provides general information and discussion about medicine, health and related subjects. The information contained in the blog and in any linked mate­ri­als, are not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.


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