Health Travel Tips by Minnie Alcantara
Before the trip:
- Make sure to check on any vaccinations you might need by either consulting with your primary care physician or Centers for Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov/) and get vaccinated prior to your trip. Also make sure to keep a copy of your vaccination records or any important medical records and have it on hand for your trip.
- Arrange for a window seat if you are prone to air or motion sickness.
- If traveling with your medications, make sure to bring the original bottles with the pharmacy label to avoid having problems with Customs or Transportation Security Administration (TSA). It’s advised to keep at least a week’s worth of medications in your carry-on luggage instead of your checked baggage.
- Pack an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses, sunglasses and sunblock (if traveling to a sunny destination).
- Prepare a mini medical kit for your trip that includes: pain medications (acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen), antacids, topical disinfectants, bandaids, a sealed bottle of alcohol (3oz of less), lubricating eye drops, mild laxative, cough drops, cough suppressants, antibacterial wipes/sanitizers and your own digital thermometer.
- Take your vitamins, immune boosting formulations in the recommended doses will help counter stress which is then helpful to lower resistance to common ailments.
During the trip:
- Avoid air sickness by minimizing or avoiding alcohol 24 hours before a flight and on the flight, as well as reading during the flight. Be aware of where the air sickness bags are in the seat pockets in front you in case you need it.
- Jetlag is defined as extreme fatigue experienced by a person after being on a long flight across several time zones. Get enough rest before your flight. To help overcome jetlag, scheduling outdoor activities for the first few days at your destination will be helpful. Spending time in the daylight will help you adjust quickly.
- Keep hydrated with plenty of fluids, such as water and juices, and eating well balanced meals. This will help relieve being jetlagged as well. Stock up on purified bottled water especially in areas where a safe source may not exist. As a back-up, there are oral rehydration solutions that contain salts and simple sugars such as glucose to counter GI disorders and heat exhaustion.
- Relieve ear pain by trying a decongestant medication (pseudoephedrine) before getting on the plane. Chewing gum and swallowing often will
- If you suffer from deep vein thrombosis (blood clots), place as little as possible under and in front of your seat so that you are able to stretch and exercise your feet and ankles. Unless the flight crew advises you otherwise, try to get up to walk and stretch your calf muscles during the flight. Drinking water and wearing support stockings may also be useful.
- Aircrafts have extremely low humidity levels that can often cause discomfort and dryness in the nose and throat, and wearing a face mask will help this issue. Covering your nose and mouth when sneezing will help prevent the spread of germs as well as avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth which are the most common entry ways to your system.
- Always wear sunblock and sunglasses in tropical destinations or high altitudes.
- Never purchase local medications unless you are already familiar with them.
- Wash your hands or wipe your hands often with antibacterial wipes or sanitizers that contain at least 60 percent alcohol, the minimum that will kill most germs on contact.
These are just a few helpful tips to keep in mind for your next vacation. Happy travels!