Vacations are a time to leave the stress of everyday life behind and get some much-needed R&R while exploring what the world and its array of cultures has to offer. Now most of us only have one to two weeks each year for a vacation, and some of us have even less time than that. According to the U.S. Travel Association, the average American vacation is only 3.8 days. Suffice it to say, when your vacation is only that long, you don’t want to waste any of it because of an illness or injury.
The best treatment for vacation sickness and injury is, of course, prevention.
10 Ways to avoid getting sick on your NYC vacation
Here are 10 surefire ways to avoid getting sick (or injured) on your vacation to the Big Apple!
Unless you live very close to the city and can drive there, chances are you will fly in. If you’ve ever flown before, you know that the air in the airports and on planes can be very drying and if we don’t drink enough water, we can get dehydrated very quickly. How does this affect our health, exactly?
The human body is made up of mostly water, and when we are dehydrated, our organs and systems can’t function properly and we can become sick much easier. Therefore, it’s very important to drink plenty of water while exploring the city.
Having said that, there is a part two to this ‘drink plenty of water’ section, and that is to drink bottled water. Here’s the thing, New York City has some of the best-tasting tap water in the country – like it is known for this. But, as great-tasting as it is, all tap water comes with its own unique bacteria profile. Your gut will simply not be used to the bacteria found in any other tap water in the country (or world), and by drinking it, you do risk the chance of getting diarrhea. And who wants diarrhea on vacation?
So, to be safe, drink plenty of water and make sure it’s of the bottled variety.
Don’t Stuff Your Face Full of Junk Food
While on vacation, most of us feel we have the right to throw caution to the wind and do whatever we desire. After all, we’ve worked hard and we deserve to enjoy ourselves and eat like pigs. And New York is the perfect place to eat like a pig. It is a foodie mecca, boasting 5-star restaurants that offer international cuisines. Only in New York can you get a pastrami sandwich as big as your head.
So, by all means enjoy some meals out at some of the best restaurants in the country, but try to continue to eat like you would at home and keep eating those fruits and veggies. Oh, and don’t imbibe too much alcohol, as it will dehydrate you and just make you feel too awful to see the sights.
Get Plenty of Sleep
New York may be the city that never sleeps, but that doesn’t mean you should follow its example. Along with making sure you stay properly hydrated, make sure you get plenty of sleep each night, as rest is what your immune system needs to fight off all of those germs and viruses that tried to invade your personal space on the plane.
If you’re a light sleeper easily affected by noise, consider investing in a sound machine and bring it with you to drown out city noises as well as noisy hotel neighbors.
Don’t Forget to Bring Your Medications
Although you’ll have no problem finding any over-the-counter medicine you may need in New York, you don’t want to leave home without your prescription medication. Having done this before myself, it can often mean and entire day or more of making phone calls back home to your primary care physician and asking them to call in an RX for you, then calling the nearest Wall Greens to see if it was filled yet. What about now? And then an hour later…. What about now? This is not only annoying but can be dangerous with medications like heart medication and diabetic insulin.
So double and triple-check your carry-on bag (never pack important medication in a suitcase you plan to check) before leaving for the airport.
Wear Glasses Instead of Contact Lenses
Let’s revisit the topic of dry airplane air one more time and talk about it from the standpoint of eye health. Wearing contact lenses on airplanes can really dry out your eyes, making them particularly vulnerable to invading microbes (you don’t want a nasty eye infection on vacation). Plus, wearing glasses keeps you from touching or rubbing your eyes, because God knows what germs your hands have picked up while on vacation!
Which brings me to my next health tip, while on vacation, it’s a good idea to bring along some hand sanitizer and use it often. You don’t have to be OCD about it, but be sure to use it after interacting with germy hotspots. For instance, after going through security at the airport, after using an ATM machine, or using a public bathroom. Anything that has potentially been touched by a lot of people has the potential to make you sick.
Take a Seat
Many visitors to the city, especially kids, find it rather thrilling to try standing during a bus or subway ride, as it’s like trying to stay on an out of control skateboard. This is a good way to get hurt. If there are seats available, always take one. If there are no seats available, make sure to hold on to a strap or pole, and be sure to sanitize your hands once the trip is over.
Be Careful of Street Vendors
You’re in the Big Apple and you want to experience walking down the sidewalk eating that hotdog like you’ve seen people do in the movies. That’s understandable. But make sure those hotdogs look like they haven’t been sitting there all day. If, when the vendor takes the lid off, you see one or two shriveled franks that look old and tired, say “no thanks” and head for the next vendor to see if his franks are fresher.
Wear Your Seatbelt in That Taxi
Taking a taxi around New York can be a great way to get from point A to point B, but you have no idea who is driving that car so be sure to buckle up for your own safety.
Wear Comfortable Shoes
New York is a city for walking. In fact, as fun as it is to take taxis and subways, you will (and should) spend most of your trip walking around the city. Because of this it’s important you bring really comfortable shoes that are already broken in. Do NOT attempt to sightsee in stylish heels, or you’ll risk breaking an ankle when that heel gets caught in a subway grate. And, though calluses might seem like no biggie, open wounds of any kind can invite infection and a necessary script for antibiotics.
What to Do if You DO Get Sick While on Vacation?
Though you can take all of the best precautions in the world, sometimes things just happen. You catch the flu right before leaving, or you eat some bad Chinese food. Luckily, New York has many Urgent Care Brooklyn centers conveniently-located around the city.
These centers are a great option for travelers because they are open 7 days a week, no appointment is necessary, and wait times are generally less than half-an-hour to be seen. Should you twist your ankle trying to run for a bus in those heels, all you need to do is hobble into any location and they’ll get you fixed up in time for your Broadway show that night.
There really is no place like New York City. If you plan on heading here on vacation and want to enjoy every minute of your trip, be sure to follow these 10 health tips so you can stay healthy and enjoy your well-deserved vacation.