13+ Tips to Stay Healthy and Avoid Getting Sick While Traveling

The fastest way to ruin your meticulously planned trip is by getting sick. Even a common cold can keep you from enjoying your plans. 

Whether you’re in a low-risk area like Western Europe or a high-risk region such as Africa, it’s pretty easy to get sick when traveling.

So you need to take precautions, like washing your hands and possibly filtering your water. 

As a general rule, you’ll likely have some stomach problems while traveling. In the best-case scenarios, you’ll have a little stomach pain, but it won’t bother you much.

In the worst case, you can end up having a medical emergency if you catch a disease. 

The Center for Disease Control releases advisories based on how safe each country is in regard to diseases. You can find your destination here and see the CDC’s advice before traveling. 

13 Best Tips to Keep You Healthy On Your Next Trip

1. Drink Bottled Water

No matter where you go, the microbes in tap water will be different than at home, even in developed countries. Additionally, in some places, water quality problems make tap water completely unsafe to consume if you aren’t a local who’s been drinking it for years.

The best thing you can do is purchase a water bottle and only fill it with sealed water bottles. If bottled water isn’t readily available, you should make sure to bring a water filter like a Lifestraw and drink through it to remove bacteria and ensure good water quality.

2. Drink a Lot of Water

Drinking plenty of water keeps you from getting dehydrated, which can make you feel tired and dizzy. Staying hydrated also helps your body fight off diseases. 

Overall, the more active you are on your trip, the more water you need to consume. 

3. Wash Your Hands Often

Something as simple as hand washing can help you avoid getting sick when you travel. Hand washing reduces your risk of contracting all kinds of illnesses, including the flu and food poisoning.

It’s also a good idea to carry hand sanitizer and use it before any meal. 

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4. Ease into a New Diet

It can be tempting to avoid familiar food when traveling abroad since some believe the best way to experience a culture is through eating local food. While this is true, it’s better to ease into it. 

At home, your stomach only digests certain foods, so completely switching your diet overnight can lead to irritation and discomfort. 

If you have a sensitive stomach, you should especially be extra careful when eating new food. To help prevent gastrointestinal problems, you should mix in the food you’d typically eat with the foods of the culture you are exploring. 

5. Be Careful About What You Eat

You should only eat food that, at the very least, comes from a place with good hygiene standards. For the most part, if the locals dine there, the food is likely safe. 

Also, try to intake mainly healthy food that is freshly prepared, hot, and thoroughly cooked to avoid food contamination.

Finally, you’ll want to avoid eating raw fresh fruits and vegetables that you haven’t prepared yourself.

6. Take Time to Rest

Lack of sleep and stress can significantly impact your immune system. And it’s harder for your body to fight off pathogens when you’re sleep-deprived, which puts you at a higher risk of infection.

While many people want to have a jam-packed itinerary, it’s essential to slow down and make sure you get enough sleep before, during, and after your trip. 

You’ll also need a short period to get used to the new time zones you’re in if you travel far away. To prevent jet lag, you can start prepping before you leave by slightly altering when you go to bed and get up.  

Furthermore, it’s important to stay active on your trip. Exercise helps keep your overall health and body in shape and ready to fight off disease. 

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7. Get All Necessary Vaccinations

Different diseases are more or less prevalent depending on where you go in the world. So, before traveling, you should get professional medical advice regarding which illnesses are most common in the country you’re visiting. 

Before leaving, make sure to get your routine vaccinations as well as the recommended vaccinations for your destination. Recommended vaccines will help prevent infection when you are traveling to different parts of the world.  

Some destinations have required vaccinations that you’ll have to get if you plan on visiting because the diseases can be life-threatening, and your government won’t want you to bring them back. These can include yellow fever, polio, and meningococcal disease.

8. Try to Avoid Bug Bites

Bugs, mosquitos especially, are notorious for transmitting diseases. Mosquito bites may just end up being an itchy annoyance, but they could also give you malaria, dengue fever, and a variety of other life-threatening diseases. 

You should wear clothes that cover most of your skin and use bug repellent whenever needed to help avoid being bitten. 

9. Protect Yourself from the Sun

Applying sunscreen and making sure you stay hydrated are important because not only can a sunburn hurt, but it can keep you down for a few days. Furthermore, when you’re dealing with a sunburn or dehydration, you put yourself at risk of getting other illnesses as well. 

Thus, if you’re going to be outdoors, you should make sure you use sunscreen, wear full-sleeve clothing, and shield your face with a hat to ensure complete sun protection. 

10. Keep All Your Medications on You

This tip is a bit of a no-brainer, but bringing your regular medicines will help keep you from getting sick while traveling. So, be sure to bring all the medications you must take and keep them safe. 

You should also bring allergy pills, cold medicine, antidiarrheal medicine, and pain killers. 

11. Get Travel Insurance

Even if you have insurance at home, it won’t cover you everywhere. Hence, if something happens, you don’t want to have to pay the full price for it. 

Travel insurance saves you that additional cost, whether it’s a doctor visit or hospitalization. 

12. Research the Area In Advance

Do your due diligence before the trip regarding health safety to reduce the risk of something bad happening. Know about safe water sources, clinic locations, food safety, and where you can get products like hand sanitizers and medicine.

13. Adhere to Local COVID Protocols

Check your destination country’s COVID protocols regarding public spaces, vaccination policy, and general guidelines. It’s likely they’re different than at home, and you don’t want to face fines or deportation for violating them. 

Also, be sure to wear your face mask at all times during air travel and in public. 

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More Tips

Here are a few extra tips to avoid getting sick while traveling. 

  • Take vitamin C and probiotics to help boost your immune health. 
  • When possible, avoid cramped public transportation. 
  • Use disinfectant wipes to wipe down door handles or surfaces you’ll often be touching. 
  • Take a hot water and Epsom salt bath at the first sign of sickness.
  • Stop in at a travel clinic for advice while planning your trip. 

Conclusion

Whenever you go to a new city, whether across the planet or across the country, your body needs time to adjust. Following the tips in this guide can help you avoid getting sick while traveling and ensure you enjoy your experience to the max. 

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