We are currently living in a daily state of health and
travel updates. For those with travel plans on the books, each day brings new
information and challenges. Trips, conferences, and festivals are being
cancelled. Airlines are cutting flights. Museums and other public places are
shutting their doors.
Yet, despite all of this, someday (hopefully soon), this
crisis will pass, and we will choose to travel again. We will book new flights,
take out good travel insurance, and make big plans. For those of us who love to
travel, we will go on experiencing the world.
As we move into a new travel future, it’s helpful to
remember how to prepare for your own health and safety. Perhaps you’ve always
been a diligent and ultra-prepared traveler, or perhaps you’ve been more relaxed
in your planning. Regardless, we owe it to ourselves and our fellow travelers
to be responsible.
Know Your Emergency
No matter whether you are going to a developed country or a
more remote part of the world, you should always make an emergency plan.
- Where is the nearest consulate and/or embassy?
Write down the address and phone number and keep them accessible on your phone
or printed in your bag.
- Stay informed on any travel advisories and
warnings. Check the US
State Department and the CDC
to understand the state of the countries/region where you’ll travel.
- Get all the immunizations to keep yourself
healthy. Some will be good for years, so you’ll be covered for multiple trips.
- Make a list of all your travel plans, including
locations and contact info where you will be staying, and leave them with a
partner, friend, and/or family member in case they need to reach you. Make
yourself an emergency contact list with phone numbers in case you need to
contact people back home; if you lose your phone or can’t use it, or don’t have
access to email, this old-school printout will be useful.
- If traveling to a country where English is not
the primary language, write down a few phrases to help in case you need them: I
need a doctor, where is the hospital, I need to make a phone call, do you speak
English, etc. Google translate and other apps can help with this. Be prepared
that you might not find someone to speak English when you need it.
Pack like a
In today’s travel climate, baggage fees are a reality, but don’t
sacrifice health for a free bag. Travel can be unpredictable, as the
Coronavirus has taught us. We need to be prepared in case plans change, we get
sick, or we find ourselves in a health emergency. Here are some reminders about
items to pack.
- Buy an
emergency medical kit. They aren’t large and won’t take up much room in
your luggage. This kit will include many essentials if you get sick, have a mild
injury, a small cut or blisters, and they will help temporarily while you see
out more help. Before each trip, make sure that the items in your medical kit
haven’t expired and that you’ve restocked on items you used last trip.
- Buy wet
wipes, hand sanitizer, and small packs of Kleenex. Wherever you travel, you
will be around other people. You may come across less than sanitary restrooms
or public spaces. You want to stay healthy while enjoying your vacation. Taking
simple precautions like having the hand sanitizer with you, or wiping down
surfaces, are easy steps to take.
Medicines you use when sick at home. If you’re away from home, especially
in a foreign country, you may find yourself coming down with a cold, allergies,
or flu. There’s nothing that’ll make you feel worse than trying to tell a
foreign pharmacist what you need in a different language or with hand gestures,
or having to google translate items on a shelf. It’s comforting to find the meds
you need right in your bag and to just curl up in your hotel/hostel bed and
sleep. Remember to pack the medicines in their original containers.
Take Care of Your
Traveling gives us a chance to vacate our normal responsibilities
and enjoy ourselves. However, it’s easy to forget that you are just as
susceptible to getting sick away from home if you don’t take care of yourself.
Life is stressful, and travel can be stressful, too.
- Eat Well.
Traveling lets us eat new foods and splurge in ways we might not at home.
That being said, sometimes your body needs a break from new foods, fried foods,
or heavy/rich foods. Know your body. When you start to feel lethargic from too
much of a good thing, take a break for a meal or two. Eat simple. Find a salad
or a light sandwich. Eat some yogurt and fruit. Yes, eat healthy on vacation!
All things in moderation!
More Water & Ease Up on the Caffeine and Alcohol. Your body likes
water, and it needs it to replenish itself. If you find yourself losing energy,
take a look at what you’ve been drinking. Have you had enough water? Have you
been drinking more caffeine or alcohol than you’re used to? Listen to your body
and take care of it.
- Build in Quality
Sleep Time. If you’re like me, you tend to pack in too much on vacation and
forget to rest. Or you might be like my husband and have trouble sleeping. Think
about this ahead of your trip and bring items to help you get your best sleep:
eye mask, melatonin or other sleeping aid, earplugs. The more rest you get, the
stronger your immune system will be.
for Jetlag. To combat jetlag, do research as to how you can combat it. I
took an herbal supplement the last time I traveled that helped me recover
faster. I also watched fewer movies on the long haul flight and listened to
- Take Your
Vitamins. Make sure you pack enough vitamins (in their original container)
and bring some extra immune boosters like Vitamin C. You should consider
bringing probiotics, especially if you’ll be in a country with foods your
stomach isn’t used to digesting. You don’t know if your body will get all the
supplements it needs while you travel, and vitamins can help keep you balanced.
I’m not a medical expert, but as I think towards my next
trip, I want to make sure I’m responsible and prepared. While I can’t predict
everything, I can have some tricks in my bags to get through the bumps in the
road. By being prepared, I can enjoy vacation and deal with those bumps when
they appear. For me, the hardest thing will be deciding where to go next! Happy