5 Tips for Staying Healthy on Your Vacation
One of the most frequent items that comes up when I begin working with a new client is a story about either themselves or a family member/friend who got sick at x destination. Clients are often worried the same may happen to them and of course want to avoid this at all costs.
Yes, there is a chance you could pick up an illness while on vacation but you also could pick something up at home. That being said, I swear by these 5 tips for staying healthy while vacationing, and nope, there is not an Emergen-C in sight!
Even if you don’t consume something that is "bad", a week full of all-you-can-eat rich food and unlimited alcohol can wreak havoc on your system, especially if you tend to diet and cut back on those types of indulgences before a beach trip. One of the best ways to avoid an upset stomach and still be able to enjoy yourself is to prepare before you leave for your trip.
Thanks to a tip from another travel agent, I began taking a daily probiotic pill about 2 weeks prior to a trip whenever I travel. Probiotics are the good bacteria we need in our gut to keep things balanced and healthy and these can really help when the balance is thrown off, as it undoubtedly will be when eating your daily taco feast.
For this purpose, a concentrated probiotic is going to be the fastest and most effective way to get your gut ready for the beach. These concentrated probiotics can be found in pill form (my personal preference to take while actually traveling), a powder you can mix into drinks or smoothies or in specialized yogurts such as Activia. To choose the best form of probiotic for you, I suggest talking to your doctor or visiting a local health food or supplement store for guidance.
Make sure to bring your probiotic in its original container with you on your trip and continue taking it so that you can experience your vacation with a balanced gut!
2) Wash Your Hands
You've heard this before a thousand times and this should be just common sense but there is a tendency to throw caution to the wind while traveling.
There is a long-standing debate about the pros and cons of hand sanitizer but sometimes you just can’t get to a sink to wash your hands.
When in the airport, at your resort, or during an excursion, be sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before eating or touching your mouth (looking at you, fellow nail-biters!). I like to pack a spray hand sanitizer in my carry-on luggage for easy access.
3) Drink Bottled Water
I don’t drink bottled water at home but I always do when traveling, even in U.S. hotels. At your resort, there will be a plentiful supply of bottled water, so be sure to take advantage - it isn’t the most environmentally friendly suggestion but many resorts do recycle.
Not only is this going to help you avoid dehydration and heatstroke (and excessive drunkness) but it will also prevent you from getting sick from a water-borne bacteria. At higher end resorts, the water is purified for brushing your teeth and for consuming ice in drinks and rinsing food but I still advise clients to choose bottled water for drinking since they are consuming that in a much larger quantity.
Thanks for a pharmacist friend who wears contacts, I've also learned that it is a good idea to wash your hands with the bottled water before putting in or taking out your contacts.
Your resort will indicate whether their water has been treated for your safety but when in doubt, reach for a bottle!
4) Bring Medications
If you’ve ever had to buy something at any hotel or cruise gift shop, you know how inflated the pricing can be. Back in my rookie traveler days, I purchased a $17 box of Alka Seltzer at a resort but since then, I’ve been much more prepared!
Whether you are having stomach issues or you bring a cold with you from back home, there are some essentials that can be packed with you for your trip. Currently in my “travel first aid kit” you’ll find:
Pain reliever such as Advil, Ibuprofen
Stomach issue reliever such as Immodium, Pepto Bismol
Heartburn treatment including both Tums and a preventative item such as Zantac (a must for my poor husband!)
Eye drops for dry eyes
Probiotics (see tip #1)
And my secret weapon – electrolyte pills and powders! I take these whenever I’m feeling dehydrated or after the nights during which I've had a little too much tequila. These are a like a non-liquid form of Pedialyte that can easily be transported and I purchased a huge box on Amazon that has lasted me over a year. I swear by these guys - they’ve brought people back from the brink of death the morning after a long night of wedding celebrations, a long day by the pool or a Puerto Rican rainforest hike.
I pack all of these medications in their original containers in my checked baggage. If you are bringing along prescription medication, be sure to keep those in their original containers with the prescription information included in your CARRY ON baggage – you don’t want to be without your medicine if you need it.
5) Remember: It is a Marathon, not a Sprint
You can take all the precautions in the world to avoid getting sick on your vacation but if you don’t pace yourself and listen to your body, none of those precautions matter.
If you’ve been to an all-inclusive resort before, I’m sure you’ve seen the group of adults who’ve just arrived from the states and are going nuts on shots at the swim up bar…and I’m guessing you didn’t see them much for the rest of that day and night. Flying can do strange things to our bodies, as can the Caribbean heat, and even getting up really early on the day you leave your home – you can definitely let loose and enjoy yourself but remember that the food and alcohol will still be there for you whenever you need it, it won't run out!
If you only drink a single glass of white wine on a Friday night back at home, crossing the border won’t magically provide you with rum drinking super powers – so, taste whatever you want in moderation but stick to what your body knows where possible.
While this list isn't all encompassing, these are 5 really easy things you can do to ensure that you have the best and healthiest trip to the Caribbean. These tips do not replace the advice of a doctor and you can always share your concerns with your medical professional. If you are traveling outside of the Caribbean or Europe, these tips still apply but you should consult the CDC to determine if any additional steps, such as vaccinations or prescription medication, should be taken.
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