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Before you pack your bags, read these tips so you’re more likely to stay healthy during your travels.

Traveling can be a great way to see the world or visit family and friends. But whether you’re heading to a familiar destination or somewhere a bit more exotic, the last thing you want to do is get sick while you’re out of town. Contracting an illness can not only ruin your experience but may also put you in a situation where you need to find medical care far from home.

Before you pack your bags and grab your tickets or passport, here are 12 things to keep in mind so you’re more likely to stay healthy while traveling:

  1. Get vaccinated. Before you leave, make sure you’re up-to-date on all of your vaccinations, including the flu and COVID-19. Depending on where you’re headed, you may also need to get vaccinated against other diseases.
  2. Pack a first-aid kit. This should include basic supplies such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers and antihistamines. Also don’t forget any prescription medications you need to take while you’re away.
  3. Wash your hands often. It may seem so basic, but this is one of the best ways to protect yourself from germs. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, before eating and when touching public objects.
  4. Take breaks on travel days. Whether you are getting to your destination by plane, train or automobile, get up and move around every hour or so to get your blood flowing. This eases pain and stiffness and helps prevent blood clots.
  5. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids, especially when you’re traveling to a hot climate or are taking a long plane flight. Avoid sugary drinks and alcohol, as they can dehydrate you.
  6. Pack healthy snacks. This way, you’ll have healthy food on hand if you get hungry or need a pick-me-up.
  7. Get enough sleep. When you’re well-rested, your immune system is better able to fight off infection. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
  8. Stay active. Exercise also keeps your immune system firing on all cylinders, so incorporate some physical activity into each day while traveling. Exercise also helps offset any extra calories you may consume while on vacation.
  9. Watch what you eat and drink. No matter where you’re headed, don’t overindulge and steer clear of foods that don’t usually agree with you. In certain countries, only drink bottled or boiled water and fully cooked foods. Avoid raw fruits and vegetables, as well as ice cubes.
  10. Research local risks. If you’re traveling to an area that has certain environmental risks, such as mosquito- or tick-borne illnesses, take steps to protect yourself such as wearing long sleeves or using bug repellant.
  11. Don’t ignore your mental health. Plan ahead and don’t overschedule your days to minimize stress. If you are anxious about traveling, think through ways to ease your anxiety, such as preparing as much as possible or talking to a therapist before you go.
  12. Listen to your body. If you’re feeling tired or sick, take a break and rest. If you think you have come down with an illness, seek medical attention.

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Date Last Reviewed: October 19, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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