Many travel for business as well as leisure, and with the recent viral outbreak causing many restrictions, bans and reduction in travel services, it can make even the most dedicated travelers take pause. This is a great moment to look at the many ways one can stay safe and healthy at any time, and how to protect yourself while traveling during any sort of outbreak or event.
Consider Your Risk Tolerance
Everyday travel can expose you to some risk. After all, an airplane’s air system recirculates the air without purifying or cleansing it of viral or other contaminants. If your risk tolerance is low, for example, you have a compromised immune system, a respiratory or cardiac condition, or a health issue that makes you more vulnerable to risks, it is best to limit travel. If you are considering travel during a time when risk is greater, it is best to postpone.
As Healthline said, visiting South America, visiting the Caribbean…no problem, but if you are cruising in Southeast Asia, it is best to hold off for a season or two.
If you are going to come into contact with anyone who is ill, it is wise to reconsider. For example, if you will spend tremendous amounts of time on a cruise ship, mass transit or a plane, you have to be realistic about the level of contact and exposure. None of the forms of transport just mentioned have air conditioning or air treatment systems capable of eliminating viral agents.
That means that you may need to reconsider a cruise or a lot of time in a major city where mass transit is your only option.
Hand hygiene is vital during travel at any time, and not exclusive to periodic outbreaks of viruses. It makes good sense to always wash your hands as a means of reducing your exposure to any germs, viruses, and other contaminants. Using good, old-fashioned soap and water for at least 30 seconds (though two minutes of washing and rinsing is best), cuts your risks substantially. You will also want to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth until you have washed thoroughly.
If you cannot get ahold of soap and water, hand sanitizer or classic alcohol wipes can do in a pinch.
Know What’s Needed at Your Destination
This is a major issue that a lot of travelers overlook but is something that can help to keep them safer and far healthier whenever they travel, and it is simply to know what vaccinations are needed and can help.
Again, as the team at Healthline said, whether staying domestic or traveling abroad, “getting the flu shot to reduce your risk for respiratory illness,” is helpful, as well as getting “other vaccinations.” Let your physician know when and where you are traveling, and they can go over a list of immunizations that you should obtain.
One of the most important things to do in order to keep yourself healthy and safe whenever traveling is to know right away if you are “under the weather.” One of the most common errors made by a traveler is to brush off initial symptoms and believing that they are simply due to fatigue or adjusting to travel. It is much better to take any signs of an illness seriously and speak to someone as soon as possible.
While most cruise ships have trained personnel who can handle any sort of issue, if you are on your own or part of a tour on land, you should let someone in charge know of your condition, too. This can ensure you get medical care immediately, even if it is only for a mild traveler’s illness that ends up being nothing at all.
There is one thing that most of us do during travel that can weaken our resiliency and leave us far more open to illness and infection, and that is to forgo adequate sleep. Yes, there will be traditional disruptions to sleep due to any changes in time zone and any prolonged journeys, but sleep is crucial. As travel writer Roger Wellington noted in a HuffPost article, “Your body needs rest when you’re physically traveling, crossing time zones, carrying luggage to and from destinations, walking all day, and so forth. Traveling is harsh on your body so make sure you get plenty of rest. How much is enough? Listen to your body.”
Just as you pay attention to any signs of illness creeping up on you, so too must you focus on what your body says in regard to sleep.
While traveling, many of us get a bit overexcited to see and do it all. This is a sure-fire route to fatigue, and once your resistance begins to decline, it is only a matter of time before your health suffers. Again, as Wellington advised, “Don’t try to see the entire city all in one day. If you plan to do a lot in a big city, consider staying longer to slow down your pace and spread your itinerary. You’ll also get to know the area more instead of just being able to say that you’ve “been there.” Be active and roam the streets,” and make the most of every moment.
Hydration and Eating
We might think of travel as a time of overindulgence, but many of us actually skip regular water intake and proper eating as we travel. A great trick to ensure you get adequate nutrition is to always eat breakfast. Even if you skip lunch or eat only a few light snacks after breakfast, if you manage to get a good dose of daily vitamins in at breakfast, you’re off to a great start.
Then, pay close attention to the amount of water consumed each day. Bottled water is always best, but if you cannot get your hands on it, you can get the hydration needed from spring water or non-caffeinated soft drinks.
It does not take a lot to remain safe and healthy as you travel, and with these tips, you can do so easily and even during periods of concern.