Traveling for the holidays? Here's how to stay healthy on the road (or in the air)
Many people travel for the holidays. It’s busy season at airports and train stations as everyone clamors aboard to make the trek home (or elsewhere) for the holidays. Or perhaps, as a freelancer, you spend a lot of time traveling year-round. No matter what your reason for being on-the-go, getting sick is probably not a part of your travel itinerary. Yet traveling can lead to sickness if you aren’t prepared. Don’t stress! We’ve put together a helpful guide to keep you healthy and happy no matter what your destination.
Depending on where you’re going, you may need to get vaccinations before your trip. If you’re heading overseas, you can check out the CDC’s Traveler’s Health website to see if you need to get a vaccine before you go. It’s probably a good idea to plan ahead, so be sure to check the website several weeks before your trip. This will give you enough time to schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor or with an Infectious Disease Specialist to administer any vaccines you may need. Generally, there are three types of vaccines for travel:
- Routine: these are recommended for all people in the US, like childhood vaccines, flu vaccines, and tetanus boosters.
- Required: these are required vaccines that travelers must have to be able to enter a country. These are dictated by a country’s government regulations. Yellow fever is an example of a required vaccine.
- Recommended: these are recommended by the CDC to travelers in order to best protect their health, based on the country to which one is traveling. Note that these are not necessarily requirements by the country you are visiting, but rather a recommendation meant to protect travelers from illnesses that could be travel-related.
Most health insurance plans will cover these vaccinations. Just be sure you’re set on timing. If you plan on getting a flu vaccine, for example, be sure to do it at least two weeks prior to your travel dates as it can take that long to become effective.
Chronic conditions are another thing to plan for when traveling. If you’re managing a chronic illness, you may have several different medications you need to take, equipment you utilize, or other care that is required on a routine basis. Be sure to visit your primary care doctor before your trip to confirm you’ll have everything you need for the entire duration of the trip. Make a list of any medications you’ll need to bring (and prescriptions you may need to refill), as well as any other equipment you need to accompany you on your trip.
If you are taking medications regularly, you’ll need to account for those while you’re traveling. Make a list of any medications you’re on and be sure that you have enough to last you the entire trip. Refill any prescriptions as needed and talk to your primary card doctor before you leave if you do need refills. If you’re going on a long or extended trip, you may need to talk to your insurance company to see if prescriptions can be filled ahead of time to accommodate your needs. In some cases,you may be able to refill prescriptions at a local pharmacy, but if not, you don’t want to be left in a lurch without medications you need.
Whether you’re traveling by plane, boat, car, or train, chances are that you’ll be in close proximity to other people…and their germs. Lower your chances of getting sick by boosting your immune system. Up your Vitamin C intake via orange juice, or vitamin c supplements (gummies or tablets) prior to your trip. While traveling, use hand sanitizer or make sure to wash your hands regularly. It may also be helpful to bring antibacterial hand-wipes to wipe down surfaces that may be germ prone (think tray tables or door handles). A few more pointers:
- Keep yourself hydrated — drink lots of water (or hot tea, or coconut water) along the way. If you’re not sure about the quality of tap water where you are, opt for bottled water instead. Be sure that the safety ring is in tact so you know the water hasn’t been tampered with and is sterile.
- Protect your skin — traveling somewhere sunny? Be sure to put on sunscreen and avoid prolonged stints in direct sunlight. Reapply sunscreen regularly, especially after sweating or swimming.
- Get those Zzzs in — Don’t opt out of your regular sleep pattern just because you’re away from home. It’s important to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night to keep you well-rested and your immune system in tip top shape. Go to bed at a reasonable hour and allow yourself the right amount of sleep to stay energized.
Congrats! You made it back to home sweet home. That doesn’t mean you can drop the ball when it comes to health. Chances are, you’re pretty tired after your trip. This is especially true if you traveled to different time zones or countries. You may find that your sleep patterns are a little wonky, so it can be helpful to lay off the alcohol and caffeine for a few days until your sleep has a chance to regulate again. Continue to hydrate and schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor just to make sure you’re in tip top shape.
Feeling excited about your holiday travel plans? We hope so! Remember, if you’re a member of one of Decent’s health plans, you have access to free telemedicine. That means you can check in with your primary care doctor via phone, email, or text whenever you need. It can come in super handy for trips away. Not a Decent member? Get a free quote today.