Nothing regenerates you like taking some time off just to relax. No meetings. No deadlines to meet. No homework. No errands. Just you and your family and perhaps a babbling brook, a pristine beach, or an awesome theme park.
Whether vacation to you means relaxing at a place close to home or an adventure across the country, getting sick while you’re on vacation is definitely not on your travel itinerary.
It happens though. Perhaps you’ve gotten sunburn or a bout of diarrhea. It’s no fun watching everyone else enjoy themselves while you’re stuck back at the hotel hoping to feel better before your vacation ends.
Unfortunately, if you’re traveling abroad to undeveloped countries the potential health risks can be much higher than a minor sunburn or traveler’s diarrhea. In some countries, you are looking at malaria, smallpox, dengue fever, yellow fever, hepatitis, and meningitis.
The good news is with a little advanced planning and being mindful of certain safety protocols you can help prevent or minimize the risk of you or your family getting sick on vacation. In this blog, the skilled providers at Internal Medicine & Pediatric Clinic give you the 411 on travel medicine and how to plan for a healthy family vacation this summer.
Vaccinations and destination-specific precautions
Each year more than 30 million Americans vacation abroad. If you are among the estimated eight million adventure-seeking vacationers to developing countries, your exposure to infectious diseases that we don’t commonly have in the United States may be much higher. For instance, about seven million Americans typically travel to countries where conditions are ripe for malaria.
Travel medicine plays a pivotal role in your pre-travel plans. This service is basically a blend of preventive medicine services with a specialized focus on the environmental and public health conditions you’ll face while on vacation.
Our travel medicine specialists take a deep dive into your destination in terms of vaccinations and also can send you on your way with medications like antimalarial drugs — all given in the context of your medical history and overall health.
Pack a safety-to-go travel kit
Once our team informs you of what conditions you’re likely to run into based on where you’re going, we’ll give you information so you can pack an informed safety-to-go kit. Some items you might want to pack include:
- Hand sanitizer
- Anti-bacterial wipes
- Prescription drugs
- Over-the-counter medications
- Extra eyeglasses
- Contact lenses
- First aid kit items like antibacterial cream
Don’t forget items like anti-malarial drugs, bug spray, and mosquito netting if you’re going to malaria-prone areas. If you’ve gotten vaccinations and immunizations for your trip you may want to tuck a written record in your to-go kit. For things like yellow fever vaccinations, some countries require an official certificate stating that you have received the vaccine. Our team can help you with that as well.
Stay hydrated and practice good hygiene
All the everyday health practices like drinking lots of water are just as relevant or perhaps even more important when you’re on vacation. Keep in mind that water quality differences may vary greatly from country to country. Your best bet is to drink bottled water without ice and travel with a refillable water bottle with a filter to purify your water when bottled water isn’t available.
As we all know from the current COVID-19 pandemic, practicing good hygiene protocols can keep infection at bay. When traveling wash your hands with soap frequently. First, run your hands under clean water, then add soap. Gently scrub for at least 20 seconds washing between your fingers and under your nails. If clean water isn’t available, hand sanitizer or antibacterial wipes are an adequate substitute in a pinch. Don’t forget to avoid contact with people who are coughing or appear to be sick and avoid touching communal surfaces like handrails, doorknobs, and light switches.
If you’re planning a family vacation this summer, book an appointment with our experienced providers here at Internal Medicine & Pediatric Clinic for a pre-travel consultation four to six weeks prior to your departure. Request an appointment online or call today. Safe travels!