Are You Practicing Healthy Travel Habits?

When visiting new destinations around the world, travelers are often exposed to many hazards. They don’t just come from environmental threats, rather, some of the biggest problems are invisible to the human eye.

Staying healthy while traveling requires a conscious effort from everyone boarding an airplane or entering a hotel room. With some preparation and knowledge about potential health threats, everyone can enjoy their next adventures without taking a tour of the local hospital.

When preparing for a trip, travelers need to make sure their planning lists include personal wellness items and good safety habits. Here are five easy healthy travel tips everyone can follow.

01. Always Opt for Bottled Water

One of the luxuries many travelers take for granted is clean water straight from the tap. However, in some parts of the world, including parts of the United States, clean water is not a guarantee. In certain places, tap water can also contain bacteria and toxins that can lead to illness, which may require attention from a doctor.

When it comes to healthy travel, always ask for sealed, bottled water. Although it may be a more expensive option, sealed bottles of water can assure travelers consume clean water and stay healthy. If bottled water is not available, consider bringing along a filtered water bottle to reduce exposure to germs and bacteria.

02. Utilize Hand Sanitizer at all Turns

At certain destinations, personal sanitation facilities may vary in availability in quality. As a result, opportunities to wash and clean hands may not be readily accessible. Furthermore, rinsing hands may not be enough to ensure cleanliness, as the water may not meet certain health standards.

To ensure healthy travel, it is always advisable to carry a small bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer at all times. Hand sanitizer can ensure travelers keep dirt and germs off their hands, especially when making contact with other vulnerable surfaces. Many brands make TSA-friendly bottles, allowing them to stay in the carry-on bag at all times.

03. Use a Bug Repellent With DEET

Germs and bacteria are not the only threats travelers face while in a foreign country. Mosquitoes are a common vector for diseases, spreading Ebola, malaria, and Zika.

When adventuring to nations known for mosquito-transmitted diseases, using a bug repellent is mandatory for healthy travel. Research shows repellents with DEET as the active ingredient are most effective in repelling mosquitoes and reducing your risk of being bitten by an infected bug. DEET repellents can also be purchased as lotions and wipes, making them easy to pack and TSA-checkpoint friendly.

04. Use Sunscreen While Outdoors

With all of the requirements of today’s travel, one of the most overlooked items on the packing list is sunscreen. However, sunscreen is arguably one of the most important items that should go in every healthy traveler’s bag. While sunburn can be uncomfortable and make travels unpleasant, long-term exposure and repeated sunburns can contribute to skin cancer.

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using at least a 30 SPF sunscreen when daily activities will take place in the outdoors. Additionally, travelers should reapply their sunscreen every two hours for maximum sun protection. Finally, the Environmental Working Group recommends travelers avoid aerosol sunscreens in order to achieve maximum protection.

05. Get Plenty of Rest Between Adventures

Finally, time changes can create havoc for even the most seasoned traveler. From the problems with jetlag to shifts in eating times, finding time to rest between adventures is critical to healthy travel.

There are several ways travelers can prepare to fight jetlag prior to arriving at their destinations. Doctors recommend shifting meal times to the local time zone, drinking plenty of water after arrival, and adjusting sleep based on the direction of travel. Experts recommend getting sleep while traveling east, and staying awake as much as possible while traveling west.