Travel Advice for a Healthy Trip

August 08, 2019

Traveling this month? Dr. Linda Prine, the Institute of Family Health’s Director of Women’s Health, offers these tips for healthy and safe travels. Part of this post was originally published on HelloGiggles.

  1. Are people more prone to illness while traveling? Why or why not?

“It often depends on whether the travel is stressful. If you’re traveling for work or for a sad event like a funeral, the stress can lower your resistance to infections. If you’re traveling for a happy occasion or for vacation — and if you’re comfortable with traveling and not stressed by it – there’s a low risk of illness.  If you’re traveling to see a partner and might be having sex after a hiatus, you might have a higher risk for a urinary tract infection.”

  1. Do you have any tips for protecting yourself from sickness during traveling (trains, planes, buses, etc.)?

“Stay away from people who are coughing and sniffling!  Try not to sit next to them.  You should especially try to steer clear of sick children who may not always cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze. Use Wetnaps and/or hand sanitizer often to keep your hands clean in between handwashing.”

  1. What about tips for protecting yourself after reaching your destination? I’m sure that jam-packed schedules and lack of sleep on vacations aren’t the best for an immune system.

“Eat a healthy diet during your trip and get plenty of sleep every night.  Eat lots of vegetables!  Doing these things always contributes to better resistance to infection. If there is a chance the local water is not safe, drink only bottled water and don’t eat foods that might have been washed in the local water. Make sure you have your birth control with you and remember to take it, or better yet, use a long-acting method (like an IUD or a contraceptive implant) that doesn’t require you to bring something and remember it. If you are having sex after a long hiatus, get up and pee afterward to wash away any bacteria that might have gotten in. Keep up your exercise routine.  Exercise gives you extra energy and an immune boost, so travel is not the time to neglect your workouts. Stay hydrated without sweetened drinks – water or iced herbal tea without sugar are best. Use sunscreen if you will be outside in the sun with your skin exposed.”

  1. If someone starts to feel sick on vacation, what can do they do to ward off the illness?

“There is mixed evidence about whether or not Vitamin C really wards off viruses, but it can’t hurt.  Also, eat healthy food with lots of greens, stay hydrated if you are in hot weather, and get extra sleep.  And you probably should avoid alcohol if you feel like you’re coming down with something.”

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