Healthful Hints: Healthy Travel: Staying healthy during spring break travels

Posted by Zoe Silver

Going somewhere exotic for springs break? Plan to study abroad for a semester? We Skidmore students love to travel, explore other cultures and try new things. In order to do this in good health, I will give you a few tasks to add to your pre-travel checklist.

Before you leave the country, check out the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website. They have a map of the world with necessary health awareness information for most countries. This will tell you if there are any travel notices in effect, how to stay healthy during your stay and a variety of additional information.

For some countries, there will be a recommended, or required, list of vaccinations that are necessary before traveling, such as Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Meningitis. It can also be helpful to visit a doctor who specializes in travel medicine before you depart. Depending on the country, they will also recommend specific vaccines and other medicines, such as preventative Malaria pills. If you will be out of the country for an extended period of time, such as a semester or a year studying abroad, it is a good idea to get a general checkup or physical to ensure that you are healthy before you start the arduous travel process.

While packing, consider bringing a first-aid kit in addition to basics like Tylenol, medicine for an upset stomach, medicine for motion sickness, and other personal health essentials. Talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for antibiotics to take with you in case you get a bacterial infection. It can be difficult to fill prescriptions abroad or to find the exact prescription if you need something specific. On that note, make sure that you will have access to any prescriptions you take regularly. If not, take enough with you to last for the entire trip. Some countries do not allow medications to be sent by mail, so consider what you may need before leaving.

Now that you have completed your packing and are on your way, there are additional challenges to be aware of upon arrival at your destination. For those of us going long distances, we have jet lag to beat. Travel and fatigue can take a toll on your body and mind, but if you take steps to give your body what it wants (the necessary amount of sleep), you will adjust to your new surroundings more easily and your body will thank you!

Try changing your watch to the time of your destination as soon as the plane takes off so you can begin adjusting your mindset. When you arrive, try to get on a normal schedule as quickly as possible. If you arrive in the morning, go out and explore for as much of the day as possible before you crash. Regardless of when you arrive, try to establish a regular sleeping schedule in the first few days so that you can be well rested and adjusted for the rest of the trip.

Depending on your destination, there are different precautions you should take while you are there. Countries have different standards and processes of treatment for their water supply, and sometimes our stomachs cannot handle the change, so be aware of your destination's water quality and buy bottled water when necessary. Raw foods require similar precaution as they are washed with the same water and can therefore result in the same ailments.

Whether abroad for an entire semester, or just a spring break trip, it takes a lot of effort for our bodies and minds to adjust to our new, foreign surroundings. This is a mentally tolling process, so be patient with yourself as you explore, learn and experience new places. If you are aware of the risks in traveling and take steps to avoid or treat them, you are more likely to have a healthy and enjoyable experience. Until next time, safe travels, and enjoy your break!  

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