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How to Avoid Getting Sick When Traveling

The biggest thing you want to do is minimize your chances. Because as we all know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take that'll help.
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It's that time of year when millions of people travel for Spring Break. Right after that is the summer travel season. And unfortunately, when millions travel, many will likely be sick in some fashion or another. Meaning, if you plan on traveling, you'll likely run into a few of them (hopefully, only because you hear them, not because you feel them!). Which leads me to this: how do you avoid getting sick?

The biggest thing you want to do is minimize your chances. Because as we all know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take that'll help.

Wash your hands

First and foremost wash your dang hands!

I know. You hear it all the time. "Tell me something useful," you're probably thinking. Well, let me tell you a little secret. The reason you hear it all the time, is because it frickin' works! But you have to do it right. Wet. Lather. Scrub. Rinse. Dry. All of that should take about 30-45 seconds. If you skip any of those steps, you're doing it wrong.

Drink bottled water

When you travel to a place that may not have the most pure water, or you know the water isn't the most sanitary, drink bottled water. It can help keep you from getting ill. You may see locals drinking the water, making you think it's safe, but your stomach may not have the right kind of bacteria to keep you from getting sick. The locals do. This word of caution also includes ice.

Other liquids

Milk should be boiled, unless you're sure it has been pasteurized. The good news? Hot tea, coffee, beer, and wine should be totally safe to drink. At least you're guaranteed a good time!

Be aware of food contamination

Eating contaminated food can pretty much ruin your entire vacation. You'll probably end up spending most of it on (or near) the toilet. Which means there are food items you may want to think about before eating -- if not avoiding them all together, including:

  • Raw fruit or veggies that you haven't peeled yourself.

  • Salads that may have been prepared with untreated water.
  • Raw or undercooked food, especially meat and fish.
  • Protect yourself from the sun

    Getting a sunburn can ruin your vacation. Just ask my sister. She got a really bad sunburn when visiting me in Florida one summer and it nearly ruined her visit. I would highly recommend listening to what doctors recommend and lathering yourself up with some SPF 15 or higher.

    You should also consider covering your skin. Wear a hat, for example, to protect your scalp and face. Long pants and long t-shirts can also help you out, even if they're not the most comfortable in hot weather.

    When you're planning on being in the sun a lot (say you're taking a vacation in a tropical location), staying hydrated helps too. Drink plenty of (bottled) water to help protect yourself.

    Mosquito bites are the worst

    Yeah, they're annoying. But those mosquito bites can also be dangerous. That is because those little blood suckers can transmit a whole bunch of nasty diseases including yellow fever, malaria, dengue fever, chickungunya (not to be confused for an item on KFC's menu), and Zika. Fortunately there are sites like this one at the Centers for Disease Control that can help keep you safe.

    • If you're going for a walk spray yourself with DEET.
    • Sleep under a ceiling fan. The moving air will make it more difficult for the little buggers to get you.
    • Cover yourself up.

    Seeing a health professional

    You know your body/health the most. If you think you need to see a doctor, or other health professional before your trip, do it.

    There are some destinations that are more dangerous to travel to than others. A doctor and/or nurse can help make sure you have all the appropriate vaccinations. They can also prescribe antimalarials if necessary.

    Bottom line

    These are just a few simple ways to help keep yourself from falling ill while you travel. And that's the thing - they're simple. So simple, they are often easy to overlook. I would recommend making health preparations part of your pre-trip planning. It's just another simple step that will ultimately make your life a whole lot easier in the long run.

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