Healthy on Vacation: Avoiding the Bite of the Travel Bug
by Jennifer Marx, Author of PassPorter
The recent rash
of illness on the Disney Magic has me thinking about staying healthy on vacation. The
Disney Magic case is not unusual -- several hundred passengers contracted a mild stomach
illness after being in close quarters with one another on their cruises. Disney
immediately ordered the ship and all ship-related areas (buses, terminal, etc.) cleaned
and disinfected to prevent further spread of germs, though it seems there are some
lingering but dwindling effects. But the simple fact is that this is the season for colds
and flu, and we're more likely to pick up germs when we travel. So what can we do to stay
healthy on our vacations?
Once upon a time, it seemed like I'd
pick up an illness whenever I traveled. I usually got mild colds or flu, but about four
years ago I got pneumonia after a stay at Disney (it was my fault -- I walked around the
entire Coronado Springs Resort in the rain.) Since
then, I've been a lot more careful about my health, both before I leave and during the
trip. Here are my tips for staying healthy:
BEFORE YOU GO:
- Get plenty of sleep, especially the night before you leave. This has made the biggest
difference for me.
- Eat and drink right in the weeks before your trip, and avoid alcohol in the days
- Refill any prescription medications and carry them with you in the original marked
- Pack a first aid kit and any medications you might need as they may not be readily
available once you're there.
- Don't forget those comfy, well-broken in shoes, comfortable clothing (including jackets
and sweaters), and sun protection (SPF15+ sunscreen and hats).
- If you'll be traveling from the West Coast or overseas, jet lag is a concern. Get plenty
of rest before you leave, avoid alcohol and caffeine before and during your flight, and
jump into your new time zone as soon as you arrive.
WHILE YOU'RE THERE:
- Drink lots of fluids ("a hydrated traveler is a healthy traveler"). If you're
prone to diarrhea, drink bottled water.
- Take advantage of the hotel's fitness center, or just walk/jog around the
- Try to eat at regular intervals --
skipped meals can lower your resistance to illness. If necessary, pack some healthy snacks
for times when you can't eat and to avoid too much junk food.
- Try to avoid crowds in enclosed buildings or vehicles, as close contact with others
makes it more likely you'll pickup germs.
If you do get ill while you're at Walt
Disney World, Centra Care Walk-In Medical Care (407-239-6463) and Main Street Physicians
Walk-In Center (407-396-1195) can help. Disney's theme parks all have First Aid Centers,
too. You can have prescription medications delivered to your hotel by calling Turner Drugs
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"I enjoyed your tips for staying
healthy while traveling, but you left out a very important piece..... handwashing! If you
can't wash with soap and water use some antibacterial hand cleanser, and wash those hands
often!!! I never go to WDW without some hand cleanser in my bag. Thanks, and I enjoy your
newsletters and books!" -- contributed by Diane Bartscherer
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