You’ve waited months for your well-earned vacation and finally, it has arrived! After a tiring day of travel, you arrive at your destination – only to feel a scratch in the back of your throat, an ache in your back, or a sour stomach. No one wants their vacation ruined by illness. Here are a few tips for staying healthy throughout your trip, whether in Canada or abroad:
1. Get a pre-travel medical exam and if needed, vaccinations
Your health care provider can give you a clean bill of health, or advise you on any precautions you should take while travelling. As well as vaccinations, they may give you medication for stomach upsets and anti-malaria medication. Don’t take the chance of having an as-yet-undiscovered health condition after you’re thousands of miles from home.
2. Eat wisely while on vacation
Eat breakfast, stick to small meals, and try unfamiliar foods with caution. It’s only natural to want to splurge on delicious cuisine while on vacation, but you don’t want to return home with an expanding waistband and shrunken wallet. Make some simple meals for yourself while travelling. You can eat fruit, salads, and sandwiches you make yourself from local grocery items. Don’t deny yourself the delicious meals you’ve been savouring – just eat out wisely and set limits.
You are also at risk of foodborne illness while travelling. Although you may have brought anti-nausea medication with you, a serious bout of gastrointestinal illness will ruin your trip. Take smart precautions like washing fruit and vegetables thoroughly. If you’re taking a cruise, check the health record of the cruise line before you buy tickets. The good news on this? Major cruise ship illnesses have declined sharply since 2016.
3. Protect your skin: avoid sunburn and insect bites
Some people avoid applying sunscreen because they want a glowing tan. Avoid this temptation: you will still tan while wearing most sunscreen products. Not only are sunburns unsightly and uncomfortable, but they can also be severe enough to ruin your vacation and send you home. Worse, sunburn causes melanoma, a dangerous form of cancer. Use a mineral-based sunscreen in preference to ones containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. Although used for years in sunscreen, Hawaii has banned these chemicals because they can damage coral reefs. They also get into your bloodstream and are being researched as potential health hazards.
4. Get sufficient sleep and don’t push your feet and body beyond their limits
A good night’s sleep is your body’s way to heal and restore. Sleep is the foundation to good health and most of us need at least seven hours of sleep a night. If you’re travelling with teens, they need 10 or more hours of sleep a night.
As to your feet, make sure you have good shoes that are broken in. Don’t rely on thin-soled sandals to carry you through miles of daily walking. The average Canadian walks 4,819 steps a day — equaling only about 2.5 kilometres. If you’re unused to walking several kilometres a day, you can experience everything from blisters to muscle and joint pain, and potential injuries.
5. Stay hydrated
Carry bottled water with you and drink it as needed. You need around two litres of water a day under average circumstances and more when it’s hot. Active people in hot weather are advised to drink a quarter litre of water or more per hour.
Although beach or ocean vacations seem inextricably linked to tropical drinks in our minds, avoid sweetened alcoholic drinks. They dehydrate you more than non-sweetened drinks and are also typically high in calories.
With these common-sense tips in mind, you should enjoy a healthy vacation and return home toned and safely tanned. The Canadian government recommends that all who travel abroad should purchase travel insurance. This insurance is not only needed, but it is also used by about a third of those who buy it. Make sure the policy you choose protects you for all the aspects of your trip.