Whether you’re traveling during flu season, during a scary virus outbreak or any time of year that you could get sick(and let’s face it, this is possible any time of year), you might be concerned about getting sick on your vacation. Luckily, there are some things that you can actively do to protect yourself from getting sick when you travel. Here are a few tips to help you stay healthy during your next vacation.
How to Stay Healthy Traveling
I will preface this to say, I am not a doctor. I am a medical professional though and have been working in healthcare for close to a decade; so although I want to share these tips with you, if you have real concerns, always talk to your primary care physician first.
So why is it that we are more susceptible to getting sick when we travel? Well it’s simple really. Being confined in an airplane with strangers, transitioning to a new climate, being around new germs our bodies may not be used to and running ourselves into the ground during our vacation are all things that contribute to increasing the possibility of getting sick when you travel.
We’ve been sick at Walt Disney World before and although there are worse places you could get sick, no one wants to spend their vacation feeling unwell or come home to find out that you now need to recover from something you caught on your trip. Here are the things we regularly practice to stay healthy when we travel.
Wash Your Hands
I don’t normally like to rank things; if you’ve been readers of ours for a while, then you’ll know we can be indecisive because it’s tough to pick the “best”, especially when there are so many choices. But I am here to tell you, this is the first tip because it is the absolute most important. Have you ever seen how many people leave the restrooms at Walt Disney World without washing their hands? Yep, I have. And it makes me cringe. There is nothing that is proven to stop the spread of germs and bacteria better than washing your hands. And I mean, like actually washing your hands. Not running them under water for 5 seconds and calling it a day. Use soap and water and wash them for as long as it takes you to say the ABCs.
Do I sound like your mother yet? Maybe. But guys, hand washing is serious business. When I was in college, I was actually tested on proper hand washing techniques. Like I could have not graduated if I didn’t wash my hands properly. So please, wash your hands and make sure your little ones are doing the same.
Hand sanitizer is nice, but it’s not enough. If you’re running around the Parks and need hand sanitizer here and there, it’s better than nothing. But it doesn’t take the place of hand washing. And even then, for it to be effective, you should be using enough that it takes 30 seconds to dry, which is more than most people use.
You can’t control what other people do, but this is the number one thing you should be doing for yourself to stay healthy when you travel. Don’t slack here.
Stop Touching Everything
This is a tough one, because a lot of us have habits of touching our faces, touching the merch at Disney, touching the hand rails as we walk down the stairs. And it’s even tougher if you have curious little kids. It’s not always easy to avoid this, but do your best. Many germs can live on surfaces for at least two hours. Remember that person you saw leave the restroom without washing their hands? Yep, they may have touched that. So just don’t.
It’s especially important to stop touching your face, since a lot of viruses are transmitted through the open surfaces on your face known as your eyes, mouth and nose. Again, this can be a little tough with kids, but you can find creative ways to keep them from touching their faces, make it game, give them something to be “responsible” for(i.e. something they can hold) or see how long they can keep their hands in their pockets.
Take Care of your Immune System
There are a lot of things that can really run down your immune system. Try to keep your immune system in check before, during and after you travel. Stay hydrated, eat well, make sure you get plenty of rest, keep your stress levels low, get out in the sun when you can. While this is an entire topic in itself, improving gut health can vastly improve your immune function.
We have a very strict habit of taking these Emergen-C Immune Plus with Vitamin D packets a week before we travel, while we are traveling and a week afterwards. In Ohio, “sick season” lasts like half the year due to the weather, and we generally take them during those months anyway, so for us its just second nature. They’re super easy to mix with some water and drink before we head to the Parks and we have never gotten sick while taking them. Now, this isn’t to say that they’re magical and will prevent anything and everything, but in our experience they do really give you a bit of a boost. And scientifically it makes sense that they would. They’re loaded with Vitamin C, Vitamin D and several B Vitamins, which are all proven to help boost your immune system. They are necessary to stay healthy traveling.
Travel Smarter to Stay Healthy
We recently shared on our Instagram stories some of the products that we use to stay healthy traveling by plane and I have to say, I was super surprised that so many people showed interest. We always bring sanitizing wipes to wipe down our airplane seats and recently were introduced to Airplane Pockets if you want to take it a step further.
It’s not a bad idea to carry sanitizing wipes with you into the Parks as well. We actually use them all the time to wipe down our phones as well, since I’m sure they pick up quite a few germs on their own.
These are just a few examples, but trust me when I say there are loads of things out there to help you combat germs while on the go.
Travel Responsibly to Stay Healthy Traveling
If you are sick, stay home. There are no two ways about it. If you have a fever, you are most likely contagious. And not only are you putting others at risk with whatever it is that is causing that fever, but you’re also putting yourself at risk for getting even sicker or picking up new germs because your immune system is compromised at that point.
Don’t take the chance. Have we had to cancel plans because of this? We absolutely have. It is inconvenient and yea, it can cost you money, but that’s why we always recommend good travel insurance as most of them do cover for cancellations and interruptions due to illness. Yes this may be a once in a lifetime trip, but is it really worth risking a chance of being hospitalized? We’d say probably not. If you’re sick, stay home.
It can be difficult to stay healthy during travel sometimes, but there are definitely things you can do to decrease your chances of getting sick. And while these tips are no magic wand that will protect you from everything and anything out there, they can definitely help.
There are a few things that are inevitable in life: Taxes and increases in Walt Disney World ticket prices. But getting sick when you travel doesn’t have to be one. We hope this post has helped give you a few insights to help you stay healthy when traveling. Stay well out there… and don’t forget to wash your hands 😉
Melanie Renee is a photographer, writer, designer and mom. Visiting Disney destinations since 2010, she is also an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. When she's not creating her next coffee recipe, or designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's seeking beautiful sunsets and planning her next trip .