The spring break travel season is here and, according to travel experts, it’s going to be a busy one with more Americans traveling than in previous years.
Whether you’re packing up the car for a quick road trip or stuffing a suitcase for a voyage abroad, planning ahead can take some of the stress out of travel and help keep you and your loved ones healthy, says Natalie Ninh, DO, a family medicine physician at Scripps Clinic Rancho Bernardo.
“You’ll want to remember your trip for the right reasons and not for any discomfort or illness you experienced along the way that could have been prevented,” Dr. Ninh says.
“Assess any risks you might encounter, including high altitude, motion sickness and extreme cold, wind or heat and don’t forget to pack any medications your doctor recommends.”
With a little preparation, you can make sure your spring break family vacation as easy as it is enjoyable.
These seven tips will help you get the most of your spring break getaway:
Sneak some extra protein into your diet if your pre-travel plans include more strenuous workouts to help build muscle. Swap chips for nuts or trail mix, add a hardboiled egg to salads and hit the dairy section for Greek yogurt or cottage cheese. Eating healthy prior to your trip will make you feel a little less guilty about what you eat while you’re away.
Begin taking a daily multivitamin or vitamin C before you leave and continue while underway to strengthen your immune system and fight off potential bugs.
Before you travel abroad, make sure your destination hasn’t been impacted by a disease outbreak or natural disaster. You should also confirm whether you or your family members need certain vaccinations prior to leaving.
Check in with your primary care physician or visit a travel medicine clinic near you. Both can help you find out if you need vaccinations or anything else before you go. Travel medicine clinics offer immunizations, counseling and medicines.
Visit cdc.gov for the latest travel notices and recommendations for staying safe and healthy.
Make sure you’re getting enough fluids in your system to stay hydrated, and if you’re traveling abroad, think twice before drinking the water.
“It’s best to use store bought bottled water to prevent stomach infection,” Dr. Ninh says. “Even something as simple as brushing your teeth with tap water can put you at risk.”
Before you go, make a checklist of everything you need to bring and stick to it. Make sure to include sunscreen and over-the-counter pain relievers if you’re prone to headaches or hangovers. A list of your medications, allergies and insurance information could also come in handy.
Healthy habits don’t have to go out the window just because you’re away from home.
“Hydration and nutrition are extremely important while on vacation,” Dr. Ninh says. “Often, people forget to have a water bottle or healthy snack on hand, which is key for supplying energy to our bodies while we are out and about on a fun-filled day. You don’t want to risk becoming dehydrated or having low sugar, which can make you feel sick and turn your dream trip into a nightmare.”
If you’re flying, take steps to prevent or minimize jet lag. And while on vacation, resist the urge to stay up past your bedtime. Lack of sleep can affect your memory and mood, making you feel groggy and grumpy. It also affects your immune system, making it harder for you to fight off colds and other illnesses.