Summer getaways are supposed to be fun and relaxing, but too often we end up spending our vacation time under the weather.
To prevent sickness from creeping onto your travel itinerary, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation immunologist Eliza Chakravarty, M.D., suggests giving your immune system a fighting chance. Here are her tips to keep you feeling good as you head for your vacation destination.
- Be a clean machine
“When you travel, you’re surrounded by a lot of people all sharing the same stuff: bathroom door handles, handrails and even seats,” said Chakravarty. “Those are perfect places for germs to grow.”
The solution, she says, is simple. “Wash your hands often. Use hand wipes or hand sanitizers. Keep your hands away from your face. It’s all pretty much common sense once you’re aware of the risks.”
- Keep up your routine
A vacation is a welcome break from your daily grind, but getting off your sleep schedule get thrown off and eating a lot of fast food can leave you susceptible to illness. And when you’re relaxing, it’s easy to throw your exercise routine out the window, too.
“It can be hard when you’re traveling, but it’s important to maintain some good nutrition and get 6 or 7 hours of sleep at a minimum,” Chakravarty said. “If you can work in a little exercise, as well, your immune system will be all the better for it.”
- Stay hydrated
“Margaritas are delicious, but they don’t provide proper hydration while you’re lounging at the pool or beach,” said Chakravarty. “Alcohol also makes you less aware of what’s going on, so you aren’t as attuned to your body’s signals that you’re becoming dehydrated.”
Dehydration can lead to urinary and kidney problems, muscle cramps, heat exhaustion and, in extreme cases, heatstroke. “As fun as it is to crack open a cold one while you’re floating in the pool, you need to make sure you drink plenty of water, too,” she said.
- Leave work at work
As Americans, we tend to take too few vacations, said Chakravarty, and many struggle to detach from the daily grind when they should focus on taking that much-needed holiday.
“Try to disconnect and let your stress levels drop. Use this time to rejuvenate and get your mental energy back,” she said. “Read books, take naps and see the sights. Do fun stuff. Stress can weigh you down and make you sick, and vacations offer a chance to break out of that.”