Happy, safe and healthy vacation fun

Summer is here and travel season is officially in full swing. Dr. Ari Gilmore shares these tips for fun and safe adventures.

Outdoor Safety:

  • Apply sunblock that’s SPF 30 or higher every two hours or after swimming in saltwater.
  • Avoid alcohol while boating or have a designated boat driver.
  • Know your capacity with waves and ocean currents. If caught in a riptide, face into the waves and swim out diagonally about 100 feet; then try to return to shore again.
  • Wear the right shoes for the activity. Don’t hike in flip-flops; wear sturdy shoes that cover your feet.
  • Keep an eye on the ground when you’re walking. It’s easy to get distracted by the sights and trip!

Food Safety:

  • If eating from a food truck, observe it first to see if they have clean meal preparation surfaces and whether it’s busy and popular.
  • Avoid fresh fruit that has been prepared out of your sight. Cooked vegetables are generally all right to eat, but it’s a good idea to avoid the lettuce/cabbage on tacos.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water before eating.

Travel vaccines:

  • Avoiding Zika virus: Zika is endemic near the equator, in warm humid climates. Physicians recommend women wait eight weeks after departing a location where Zika might be present before attempting to get pregnant. Likewise, we recommend men wait six months after visiting, because they have the ability to transmit the disease for some time, even after symptoms have subsided.
  • Make sure you have the proper vaccines if you’re travelling abroad. Visit www.CDC.gov/travel or consult at least one month before you depart with a travel-clinic physician regarding malaria, typhoid and yellow fever.

Long flights:

  • Jet lag has less to do with time changes and more to do with the low pressure and low oxygen levels on the aircraft. Increase your oxygen intake by drinking more water in-flight and being properly hydrated in the days before your flight. Also, avoid alcohol (which causes dehydration).
  • Get up from your seat every few hours to stretch your legs and do a few calf squeezes to increase blood flow.

Trips with children:

  • On a long car trip, take breaks and walk with your kids for 5-10 minutes. This blows off steam and helps circulation.
  • If your child is in diapers, pack individual diapers in plastic baggies—easy to grab and a bag for disposal, too.
  • Expect some acting out and fussiness—travel is stressful for everyone! Come prepared with snacks (such as nuts, granola bars, dried fruit and crackers) and activities (books, finger puppets, drawing materials, a new toy).

Food allergies:

  • Research your dining options in advance. At a restaurant, ask open-ended questions, like “What kinds of oil is in the salad dressing?” instead of “Does this contain walnut oil?”
  • Avoid buffets. It’s easy for foods to be cross-contaminated when serving utensils are shared across containers.
  • Take the medications you need for an allergic reaction, and know where the nearest hospital is that can treat you or your child.

Ari Gilmore, MD, practices family medicine at the PacMed Beacon Hill clinic. You’ll also find comprehensive travel services for adults and children at The PacMed Travel Clinic—like country-specific health advice and immunizations. Bon voyage!