When you only have a few weeks per year to spend precious holiday time with your family, you want to enjoy it the max. You want your whole family to be healthy and full of energy. There are some things you can do to help staying healthy while travelling. Some aspects to consider are –
- How you will be travelling.
- Where you will go.
- How long for and what season.
- Where you plan to stay.
- Your current family state of health.
Before leaving, make sure that you have a comprehensive travel health insurance package that will cover any expensive medical costs that may occur. In some countries, full coverage may not be necessary, as normal Doctor’s consultations may be relatively inexpensive and pharmaceuticals readily available and inexpensive. But it is best to err on the side of caution.
If you are traveling to certain areas of the world, vaccinations may be mandatory,while others may be recommended. The World Health Organization has a comprehensive current list available on the Internet.or check with your own country’s health policy as well as the place you plan to visit.
3. Dealing with Stress
Preparations for going on holiday can actually be stressful, so make sure you all take some care to eat well and get plenty of sleep before you leave.
I always take natural immune boosting supplements prior, during, and after I travel, usually for a week or so on each side of my holiday. I know that I am going to be mixing with people who may be carrying illnesses that I have never been exposed to, so my body needs to be prepared .
If your holiday involves any long-haul flights, there will be extra stress on your body during the flight. The cabin pressure is always set to higher than ground level. That is why your ear drums will expand outwards as the plane ascends; and with opposite pressure as you descend. Most times, they will adjust easily but you can also help by chewing, swallowing, or wriggling your jaw. If those don’t work, you can hold your nose and gently breath into the back of your nose where a tiny air passage allows the air to equalize the pressure inside and outside your ear. Giving your child a drink when the airplane descends helps to equalize inside the ear. Flying with a cold can block this Eustachian tube and cause extreme pain, so consult a doctor if in doubt.
When flying, higher altitude air pressure means that the air is drier in the plane and you may find your sinuses, eyes, and skin dry out. Use skin moisturizers and eye or nose drops as you need to. Drink plenty of fluids while flying. With current restrictions on containers, it is not so easy to always have water to drink. Don’t be shy about asking the flight attendants for extra water at any time, and make sure to take an extra one when they are offering.
Dehydration can be a huge problem while on holiday in a hot country. In a desert country, it may not even seem as though you are sweating. Moisture never gets to form on your skin, as it evaporates almost immediately! To hydrate, it is better to drink a significant amount as soon as you wake up, at least a pint if you can, to rehydrate after moisture loss while sleeping. This sets you up for the day. Constantly sipping small amounts is not so useful, so try to drink a whole glass of water – preferably cool but not ice cold.
Another aspect of dehydration is that, as you sweat you will be losing essential salts as well as fluid from your body. Both water and electrolyte salts need to be kept in balance, so you may need to add Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) to your fluids. Sports drinks and the like usually contain these salts as well as glucose for energy. However,a much less expensive option is to purchase inexpensive sachets of ORS and add these to your drinking water.
If you do not replace these salts, your body cannot maintain the correct balance between fluid and salts.It will actually void water to remain in balance which means symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. Many people mistake dehydration for food poisoning. In severe cases, people need to be placed on a drip of intravenous saline to immediately replace the body fluids.
5. Food Safety
People often have a fear of food poisoning in foreign countries. Having a healthy gut helps reduce the risk of intestinal infection. We ingest bugs every day, and most of the time our gut deals with any problems. However, unfamiliar organisms, being dehydrated, and possibly being stressed all makes us more vulnerable on holiday. Even just a change of perfectly good water can upset our gut system.
Food poisoning is notoriously difficult to pinpoint where it originated, as sometimes it can take some days to manifest. If the food already contains sufficient microbes when you eat it, you may taste it and generally feel like spitting it out. Listen to your body – spit it out and don’t eat more. However,other microbes are sneakier,and they spend time multiplying in your body before causing problems. And these can be serious and difficult to eliminate.Seek medical advice earlier rather than later if you suspect food poisoning.
6. There are a few things you can do to help your digestion
Most people in hot countries do not drink while they eat. There is some controversy as to whether this aids digestion, but I tend to follow the locals. Your stomach is naturally full with hydrochloric acid which kills lots of potentially harmful bacteria. If you drink and eat at the same time you may lower the effectiveness of this acid. So I avoid drinks unless they are slightly acidic drinks such as wine, cola, or fruit juices, especially pineapple.
Picked and fermented foods can also aid digestion, so eat these prior to your meal to stimulate digestive juices. That bowl of spicy pickled vegetables not only tastes good, they are good for you.
Drink natural pre- and pro-biotic foods and fluids to keep your gut healthy. These can be like kefir, kombucha, riyeb, and some yogurts. There are also capsule forms of these, and you can easily travel with them.
7. Sun Exposure
You may be traveling to a warmer country with the hope of getting a little sun-kissed look to your skin. To avoid burning, any person who has little melanin (the brown color that tans our skin)should expose their skin carefully over some days to build up melanin levels to tan. Some countries, such as Australia and New Zealand have clear skies and little ozone protection. Even though the sun may not be very hot or even on cloudy days, there may dangerous levels of burning Ultra Violet (UV)light. In these countries, avoid being outside between the hours of 11am and 3pm during summer. Wear UV proof clothing and a hat, and use effective sunscreen lotions.
Regarding sunscreen lotions,be aware that they are very damaging to tropical sea life especially corals, so preferably cover up when snorkeling rather than coat yourself with sunscreen.
Always protect your eyes too with a hat and sunglasses that protect from the front and side against UVA and UVB light.
By preparing ahead, hopefully you will stay happy and healthy on holiday, but if someone does become ill, seek medical advice as soon as possible. I personally believe positive thoughts go a long way towards staying healthy, so keep smiling and always look for the bright side of any issues that may arise.