Top 10 Ways to Stay Healthy While Traveling
Avoid getting sick on your next trip with these tips from the experts.
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Wash Your Hands
"Hand washing is the single most important thing anybody can do to protect their health," advises. Dr. Philip Tierno, professor of Microbiology and Pathology at NYU School of Medicine and author of The Secret Life of Germs. He says you should spend 20 seconds washing, including under the nail beds.
If you can’t wash your hands right away, Dr. Tierno warns against touching your face to prevent germs from entering via your eyes, nose or mouth. Additionally, Dr. Tierno and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend using hand sanitizer as an alternative to soap and water.
Visit a Travel Clinic
Phyllis Kozarsky, MD, professor of medicine and infectious diseases at Emory University, recommends visiting a travel clinic beforehand, particularly if you’re traveling to a developing country. The International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM) provides a list of travel clinics across the world. "It’s virtually impossible for even an outstanding general doctor... to keep up to date with all the things going on internationally."
She suggests visiting a travel clinic four to six weeks prior to a trip. In addition to receiving any pertinent travel inoculations, Dr. Kozarsky also advises getting up to date with routine immunizations, such as tetanus and flu shots.
Boost Your Immunity Before a Long Flight
Carry a Medical Kit
Perrin says when traveling to developing countries she also brings Immodium for an upset stomach and a prescription antibiotic such as Zithromax or Cipro. Of course, ask your doctor what’s best for you.
Prevent Bug Bites
For more complete coverage, clothing may be treated with permethrin. She also suggests Picaridin, which is newer and considered milder on skin than DEET, but questions the effectiveness of more natural products in preventing bug bites. “Use an EPA-recommended product.”
Get Enough Sleep
Be Careful What You Eat and Drink
Dr. Tierno also warns against drinking the water in airplane bathrooms. “It is contaminated… it’s teeming with bacteria,” he says. He personally uses a hand sanitizer instead of washing his hands with it.