Thursday, July 8, 2010

Staying Healthy on Vacation

Vacation days are here and the living is good. But while illness may be the last thing you want to think about, being prepared for a health emergency could make the difference between a great vacation or one you would rather forget.

So consider the following a handy checklist from LifeBridge Health.
  • Insurance card: Don’t leave home without it.
Your insurance card is just as vital as your passport and any other identification. Check with your insurance provider before you leave to see how they handle any out-of-network charges. For example, generally Medicare does not cover health care outside the United States, but there are Medicare Advantage and Medigap policies that will give you coverage. To learn more, read Medicare Coverage Outside the United States.
  • Pack enough maintenance medications for the duration of your trip – and then some.
Stuff happens that could delay your return. The volcano eruption in Iceland caused many vacationers throughout Europe to have their trips extended, whether they wanted to or not.
  • Oh say can you see?
The prudent thing to do if you wear glasses or contact lenses is to bring an extra pair. Need a cheap back-up pair? Try an online store like Zenni Optical. It's also a good idea to consider taking a pair of prescription sunglasses. And don't forget the contact lens solution!
  • Pack enough over-the-counter medications
Ever tried asking for sinus medication at an Italian pharmacy? Even if you are staying in the U.S., pack away a few over-the-counter medications for conditions such as colds, motion sickness, diarrhea and allergies. Depending on where you are going, also consider insect repellent, sunscreen, Band-Aids, and an anti-itch cream. Finally, those traveling with car sickness-prone children may want to consider packing a rehydration solution like Gatorade or Pedialyte, as well as a change of clothes, wipes, and hand sanitizer.
  • You’ve arrived at your destination. Is the water safe?
And speaking of hydration, do your homework to see whether it's safe to drink tap water. Remember it’s not just the drinking water that you should be concerned about. Those freshly washed vegetables and fruit served at that colorful little street stand in a foreign country could come back to haunt you.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often to help reduce any disease transmission.
  • If you are camping or in a place where it may be hard to wash up, pack hand sanitizer. Always disinfect your hands when preparing food.
  • Don’t forget to stay hydrated and try to sleep well.
Getting enough rest and drinking fluids will allow you the energy needed for sight-seeing and excursions. If you are a light sleeper, consider taking ear plugs or a sleep mask. If you are traveling in different time zones, check out this article on jet lag.

Here’s to a great vacation and to coming home healthy and happy.
-Sandra Crockett

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