Party Pooper: How to Avoid Getting Sick When You Travel

We at Onsite Travel would like to start this post by reminding our readers that most travel honestly go off perfectly fine. However, some advanced planning is always a good idea and can allow your odds of never having an issue while traveling increase dramatically if one of your party does get sick (knock on wood).

Everyone hates getting sick but getting sick when you are on vacation can be particularly unpleasant. People can become ill when they travel for a number of reasons. When you relax, your body’s immunity lowers because you are under less stress, making you more susceptible to everyday viruses. As crazy as this seems, stress will stimulate your immune system so when you relax you can open yourself to illnesses There is actually a term called “leisure sickness”.

New places you travel to can also contain unfamiliar pathogens and unfamiliar bugs in the environment that can affect you negatively. You may be excited to see Bejing, but your asthma certainly won’t be and cruising can be a killer for food born illness and/or seasickness. Below are some tips and tricks to help prevent and/or lessen different travel ailments so that, if they happen to you, it’ll just be a small bump in an otherwise great vacation.

Tips for Planning Ahead

Pack a Medical Kit

Be ready for the worst before it happens. Important things to consider are:

·         Cold Medicine
·         Bottled water
·         Insect repellent, try to make sure it has DEET
·         Sunblock, at least SPF 15 although SPF 5O is better
·         lip balm
·         antibiotic ointment
·         tweezers
·         bandages/gauze, adhesive tape, and scissors (if you bring one, bring the rest)
·         foot care products such as for blisters and athlete’s foot
·         diarrhea remedy
·         for women: feminine products

If you are traveling with a group in a land tour or on a cruise line these products may be available to purchase as you need them. However, they may not have what you need or they may be in short supply so it is best to be prepared and they can be amazingly expensive on board a ship.

*A Note on Packing Prescription Medication of Any kind

Keep prescription medication in their original containers while traveling. Remember to pack them in your carry-on, not your luggage and always bring a physical copy of your prescription in case you loose the medicine on your trip. Particularly when traveling out of the country, get a written note from your doctor explaining why you may be taking any narcotics and sedatives to prevent problems at border crossings. This too, should be packed in your carry-on.

Vaccines

It doesn’t happen often nowadays, but there are still a few countries that require vaccinations to enter the country. Particularly when visiting South America, be sure you are up to date on your vaccinations and talk to your doctor about different preventative measures you may want to take depending on where you are traveling.

Jet Lag: Disruption of the Body’s Internal Clock

Although it is called “jet lag”, this can affect anyone traveling across too many time zones when they’re on vacation. Prepare yourself for traveling across time zones by shifting your body’s clock slowly while your still at home. Do this by manipulating your light exposure, activity patterns, and so on so that it is not as jarring of a transition when you are in a new place. There are several thoughts on solving jet lag but the best way is to try and get on your new schedule a.s.a.p. once you arrive.

Tips for When You’re Traveling

Exercise

As I mentioned before, when you relax, your body’s immunity lowers because you are under less stress. One way to prevent this is to exercise lightly while on vacation. This could be something as simple as taking a brisk walk or swimming. If you stay active your body’s immune system will stay boosted.

Wear Mosquito Repellent

This is mostly in regards to the tropics. Mosquito’s can carry a number of different diseases, some of which you cannot get vaccinated against ahead of time like Dengue fever. Propellant can go a long way.

Avoid Under-cooked Food and Drink Only Bottled Water

This is mostly in regards to less developed countries to avoid stomach sickness, where traveler’s diarrhea is more prevalent. Do you enjoy spicy food? Cayenne peppers increase the intestine’s resistance to microbes that cause stomach pain and diarrhea. If you sprinkle enough on one meal a day to make it extra spicy, it will help keep the diarrhea  away. If you do get stomach sickness, no matter where you travel, calcium is thought to help increase growth of diarrhea-fighting bacterium, making it last for a shorter period of time.

Luck favors the prepared and as always, travel safe and have fun out there!!

image by James Diedrick: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jkdatlanta/3497413025
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Pre-Vacation Planning: Getting Your Affairs in Order

No one ever wants to be rushing around a week before a vacation to find a housesitter or, when trying to purchase something on vacation, find their credit cards have been frozen. As important as it is to plan the details of a vacation, it is perhaps even more important to plan for what you leave behind. This can be broken down into two categories: telling people you are going on vacation and caring for the things you leave behind.

  • Telling People You are Going on Vacation
    • No, this does not mean sending a tweet or making a facebook post. Think of things that you do day to day like going to work, perhaps participating in extracurricular activities, even using a credit card. The people associated with these things need to be alerted that you will be gone.
      • Do not post on social media. Although this may seem like the first and easiest way for you to start alerting people, posting on social media greatly increases your risk of a break in. Post after not before.
      • Alert your neighbors so that they aren’t surprised when the house seems empty or when a housesitter comes by to check in. This may even prompt them to keep an eye on the place and report any suspicious activity while you’re away.
      • If you are not on vacation at the time already, give notice at work that you will be going on holiday. The earlier you notify your boss the better, particularly if you plan to go during a busy season or a time when many people are planning to take time off. Although it isn’t usually required, the same goes for alerting extracurricular activities you or your child might be in.
      • Always be sure to alert your credit card companies when you are traveling, particularly out of the country. Many card companies will freeze people’s cards automatically if a purchase is made overseas since it is one of the more obvious signs of identity theft. Also be sure to confirm with them what countries their cards will work in, as this can be another issue that you will want to take care of before your vacation if they don’t. Some companies charge fees for foreign transactions as well and usually range between 2-5%, depending on the company. Be sure to discuss this with them to better keep track of your finances on vacation.
    • Like with packing, when trying to think about the things you will need cared for it is best to make a list.
      • There will likely be your home and perhaps pets if you have them at the top, but also remember to think about different things that you do that might influence others. For example, if you volunteer coach a children’s sports team or are perhaps part of a carpool system be sure to let those involved know and try to set up a new arrangement while you’re gone if necessary.
      • Housesitters can be important to avoid mishaps and break ins while you’re away and put your mind at ease. In fact, some insurance policies will not cover a break in if the house was not checked on for a certain amount of time. Be sure to look at your insurance policy before deciding not to get one. Often a house sitters main job is to make sure that the house is safe and not make it too obvious that you are away by doing small things like picking up the newspaper and taking the garbage in and out on the appropriate days. If you hire a housesitter, make a list for them of various things to do, garbage days, and emergency numbers. If you have decided against a house sitter, light timers can be used to simulate people at home.
      • Petsitters can be important and, especially during holiday seasons, should be found in advance. Depending on how often they come and much care your pet needs, housesitters can sometimes double as petsitters. If a housesitter plans to come by once a day, I highly suggest this arrangement with animals such as cats and fish who don’t require a lot of attention or exercise. For an animal like a dog or one that has to take medication, I suggest leaving it with a trusted friend or at a kennel. Particularly for dogs, kennels can actually be good petsitting solutions as they often have scheduled times for pets to play and get exercise. If your pet does require medication, make a list of their medication schedule and be sure to give their temporary caretaker extra just in case.

image by Austin Kirk: https://www.flickr.com/photos/aukirk/16816818235

China Interesting Fact
The Terra Cotta Warriors were built for the tomb of Emperor Qin, the first emperor of a unified China. These soldiers have become world famous because of their size, numbers, and amazing detail. There are over 6,000 life sized soldiers, no two being identical and all have different facial features. The army comes complete with horses, chariots, and weaponry but as the excavation continues, not just military statues but also acrobats, strongmen, and musicians are being excavated. The tomb has still not been opened since the site’s discovery in the 1970s out of fear of destroying the artifacts inside.