Whether you’re planning some long weekends or an extended trip or two, summer is a great time to get away with your family. While there are some things you can’t control — like the weather and the crowds — you can take precautions to ensure everyone stays healthy during your vacation. After all, there’s nothing worse than feeling ill when you’re away from home.
Kaiser Permanente offers the following travel tips to help you manage your health and feel your best while you’re enjoying your summer adventures.
Check in with your doctor
While not necessary for a short jaunt, scheduling a doctor visit before a big trip — especially one outside the country — is important. Make an appointment at least four to six weeks before you leave and share your travel plans. Your doctor may recommend certain vaccines or medications, depending on where you’re headed.
Refill prescriptions and keep them with you
Running out of medicine when you’re on vacation can cause a lot of unnecessary stress. To avoid that, refill your prescriptions before you leave and bring a list of them with you in case anything gets lost.
It’s also a good idea to keep medication where you can get to it easily — like a purse, backpack, or carry-on. This is especially important for plane trips; even if your checked luggage takes a detour before it catches up with you, you won’t miss a dose if you have your medication with you.
Get familiar with your health coverage
Would you know your options if someone in your party needs healthcare at your destination? Bone up on your provider’s out of area coverage — and have its contact number handy so you can reach out if you or a family member gets sick or hurt while traveling.
Eat and drink in moderation
It’s totally normal to want to indulge when you’re on vacation, but it’s still a good idea to strike a balance between nutritious meals and splurges. For example, if you have a big dinner planned, get ready by eating light, plant-based foods during the day.
Can you skip your veggies on vacation? No — you should eat vegetables at least once a day while traveling. Dark, leafy greens are a particularly good choice because they can boost your energy and may even improve your mood.
Because dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches and even serious health problems in severe cases, it’s important to drink water even as you’re busy sightseeing or relaxing on the beach. How can you do that?
- Keep a full bottle of water with you wherever you go — and bring extra water for any children traveling with you.
- Bring an empty water bottle through airport security and fill it at a terminal drinking fountain — or invest in bottled water after you clear security and before you board the plane.
- Use a mobile app to track your water intake and get reminders to drink up.
No, you don’t have to stick with your usual workout regime when you’re away from home, but it’s important to log at least 30 minutes of activity every day — even if relaxing is number one on your list of vacation to-dos. Exercising on vacation can improve your energy level and minimize any stiffness you experience from sleeping in an unfamiliar bed. You also might feel less guilty about food or drink splurges.
On the flip side, you don’t want to overexert yourself while on vacation — especially if you’re two, three or more time zones away from home. You might be tempted to push yourself to see and do as much as possible, but when you’re exhausted, you raise the odds of getting sick or injured. Listen to your body and get some rest when you feel mentally, emotionally or physically tired.
Put your sunscreen to good use
Whether you’re lazing away on a beach or at the pool — or simply walking around to see the sights — it’s important to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 and reapply every two hours to prevent sunburns and reduce the risk of developing skin cancer. Wearing a hat is also a good idea.
Now you’re ready for summer travel from a health perspective. It’s up to you to determine your destination, make the arrangements, pack — and have a great time making memories.