How to Avoid Getting Sick While Traveling

With many countries easing their COVID-19 restrictions, people are finally going on their overdue vacations. You, at last, get to see that country on your bucket list or visit loved ones you haven’t seen in far too long. But unless you’re one of those lucky people who never seem to get sick, you know that traveling can be a pretty risky business when it comes to your health.

From picking up new bugs in airports and hotels to succumbing to the stress of traveling, it’s all too easy to come down with something while on the road. Traveling can be a lot of fun, but it can also be risky for your health. If you’re not careful, you might end up getting sick while you’re on vacation. 
But don’t let your fear stop you. Here are a few simple and doable tips to help you look after your travel health.

Woman holding map on road trip while sitting on the hood of a car

6 Tips on How to Avoid Getting Sick While Traveling 

1. Get Your Travel Vaccines Before You Go

Don’t leave things up to chance by relying on your natural immunity. It’s a good safety measure to visit a travel clinic before going on a trip. A travel clinic can provide recommended travel vaccines to help protect you from diseases like yellow fever, typhoid, and hepatitis A and B. You can also get in-depth and personalized advice on how to avoid getting sick while traveling, what to do if you do get sick, recommendations on probiotics, and specific medication and vaccines depending on your destination.

If there is a high risk of contracting or experiencing certain illnesses while on your trip, a travel clinic may also provide prescriptions for conditions like malaria, altitude sickness, and traveler’s diarrhea

For more information, check out this blog on how to prepare travel vaccines before your next trip.

2. Eat Foods Served Hot

One of the best ways to avoid getting sick while traveling is to eat hot foods. Whether it’s a piping hot bowl of soup or a steaming plate of noodles, thoroughly cooking foods can help kill off bacteria or viruses you might have come into contact with. Packaged snacks are fine in a pinch, but try to gravitate toward hot dishes as much as possible.

woman eating a plate of hot noodles while traveling

Hot beverages can also be helpful in this regard. A cup of tea or coffee can not only help warm you up on a cold day, but it can also help keep your immune system functioning properly. Bottled water is fine, but try to avoid tap water if you can.

If you can, completely avoid eating food from street vendors. This one can be hard, especially when you’re in a new place and everything looks delicious. But it’s important to remember that street food doesn’t often adhere to the same safety standards as restaurants, so it’s best to err on the side of caution. If you must eat from a street vendor, ensure the food is cooked all the way through and served hot.

3. Wash Your Hands Often 

This is probably the most important thing you can do to avoid getting sick while traveling. Whether in an airport, on a plane, or exploring a new city, it’s essential to wash your hands often. If you can, carry around a small bottle of rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer to use when soap and water aren’t available. Washing your hands is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of illness, so make sure you’re doing it often. Sing “Happy Birthday” twice while you do it. This ensures you’ve washed long enough.

In addition to washing your hands often, it’s also important to be mindful of what you’re touching. Minimize contact with your face, particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth. If you must touch your face, make sure your hands are clean first. It’s also a good idea to avoid touching things like doorknobs, handrails, and elevator buttons. If possible, use a paper towel or tissue to protect your hands when touching these surfaces.

Regularly wash your hands to avoid getting sick while traveling

4. Get Plenty of Rest

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but getting plenty of rest is vital when traveling. Some people want to make the most of every day by packing it with tons of activities, but don’t miss out on the essential zzzs. When you’re exhausted, your immune system is more likely to take a hit, leaving you more susceptible to getting sick. So, make sure you get enough sleep and take breaks throughout the day to keep your body and mind strong. 

If you can, stick to a regular sleep schedule as much as possible. For adults, try to get about seven to eight hours of sleep every night. If you’re not used to sleeping in a new place or you have jetlag, adjusting might take a few nights, but try your best to get a good night’s rest.

5. Drink Enough Fluids

It’s important to stay hydrated when you’re traveling, especially if you’re going to be spending time in hot or humid climates. Drinking plenty of fluids will help keep your body temperature regulated and will also help flush out any toxins that might make you sick. 

Woman holding a glass of water, laughing

Water is always the best option, but you can also drink fruit juices, sports drinks, and herbal teas. Just avoid sugary drinks like soda and alcohol, as these can dehydrate you. If you’re not a fan of water, try carrying around a reusable water bottle so you can have your favorite beverage with you at all times.

Not sure if you’re hydrated enough? Check the color of your urine! The more pigmented it is, the more dehydrated you are.

6. Keep Your Distance

When you’re traveling, it’s important to remember that you’re coming into contact with a lot of people from all over the world. This means that you’re more likely to be exposed to new germs and illnesses. To reduce your risk of getting sick, try to avoid close contact with other people as much as possible. 

If you’re on a plane, try to choose a seat that’s not in the middle of the row. An aisle or window seat means you have a little bit of extra space, at least. If you’re in a crowded place, such as an airport or train station, try to stay six feet away from other people. And if you’re sick, do your best to limit your contact with other people to avoid making them sick.

When it comes to traveling, one of the many things you need to consider is how to avoid getting sick. With these simple tips, you can stay healthy no matter where your next adventure takes you. Bon voyage!

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Jonathan Baktari MD

Jonathan Baktari, MD brings over 20 years of clinical, administrative and entrepreneurial experience to lead the current e7 Health team. He has been a triple board-certified physician with specialties in internal medicine, pulmonary and critical care medicine. He has been the Medical Director of The Valley Health Systems, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Culinary Health Fund and currently is the CEO of two healthcare companies.
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