Do you ever feel like you need a vacation from your vacation? It doesn’t matter how restful your time may be, trips can be exhausting. And after using a week of vacation days, who has time to tack on a couple of sick days? Yet, traveling often causes us to get sick. As you plan your summer trips, learn how you and your family can stay well while you travel.
Why You Get Sick When You Travel
So, why do you get sick when you travel? One word can sum it all up: people. Airports, airplanes, and other mass transit systems are filled with people. People who have germs and viruses unintentionally share their germs and viruses with those in close proximity. If you manage to avoid sneaky germs and harmful viruses while at the airport, guess what you’ll find when you arrive at your destination? More people. Every day, a slew of people share the same stair banister at the museum, elevator buttons in the hotel lobby, and lap bars on your favorite ride at the theme park. Then add the stress mom and dad feel preparing for and leading vacation activities. It’s no wonder you come home feeling a little run down. One study finds that during stressful times, the body produces both adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline boosts the immune system, but cortisol weakens it. Mom and dad may feel stressed as they wrap up things at work, prepare for a dog or house sitter, get everyone in the family packed, and triple-check transportation details before the vacation even begins! This can often be a stressful situation. Then, at the end of the vacation, when the family makes it home in one piece, the stress is reduced along with the extra adrenaline. Yet cortisol stays in your bloodstream, weakening your immune system. If any viruses entered your body during your travel, your body now has difficulty fighting it off, leaving you more prone to sickness.
What Can You Do?
This information certainly doesn’t prevent anyone from planning a vacation, so it’s important to learn—and practice—some tips to stay healthy when you travel. Every travel expert agrees that the most important thing you can do to stay healthy is sleep. While you’re tempted to fit everything into your limited schedule—see all the sights and do every recommended activity—you must listen to your body. Traveling is exhausting, and you will be able to see and do more if you give your body the rest it requires. Make sure you drink plenty of water every day, and don’t equate vacation with alcohol and sugary beverages. Consuming water throughout your trip is just as important as it is when you’re at home. On a similar note, make sure fruits and vegetables are a part of your diet even though you may be tempted to “splurge” more often than usual. Pack multi-vitamins and take them every day to supplement the nutrients your body needs. Bring hand sanitizer with you and make sure you wash your hands frequently—especially if you’re in a populated location. Hand sanitizer should never replace soap and water but can be used when a public restroom is unavailable.
When You’re Sick at Your Destination
Are you already in vacation mode when an illness takes over? Consider over-the-counter medications that you can pick up at a local drugstore to curb your symptoms. Try taking a break from your activity and let your body rest. Drink plenty of fluids to rehydrate and flush out the unwelcome germs. Depending on your travel destination, you may want to pack a first aid kit with several medications you may need quickly. Include antacids for stomach problems, ibuprofen for minor aches and pains, antibiotic ointment for small cuts, rehydration supplements for diarrhea, and fiber supplements for constipation. Don’t forget your EpiPen if you have allergies. But if it becomes clear that you’ll need to see a doctor, contact your insurance company to find a local physician covered under your plan. If you’re overseas and have a serious medical issue, contact the local United States Embassy. The Embassy can arrange to fly you back to the U.S. if necessary or help you wire money to pay for your care while abroad.
As you plan your summer vacations, make sure you plan to be safe and come home healthy! If you are traveling to the Bryan/College Station or Copperas Cove area and need a physician quickly, Integrity Urgent Care is available seven days a week from 8:00 am-8:00 pm. You can give us a call at (979) 703-1832 for Bryan College Station or (254) 577-5642 for Copperas Cove but know that walk-ins are always welcome!