Whether you’re off to visit the grandparents or are taking an exotic vacation overseas, bugs are bound to find you. Kids are breeding grounds for all kinds of nasty bacteria, especially when you expose them to different environments and disrupt their routines. But there are plenty of preventative measures you can take to avoid being struck sick during the holidays.
Rest up to beat a cold
Chill out as much as possible before your trip. Seriously. I know this sounds lame for all you adrenaline junkies (guilty as charged), but doing so keeps your immune system in tip top shape. Allow yourself lots of time to pack and try to get a good night sleep before you travel. Listen, I don’t want to sound like your mother, but (here I go anyway) refraining from caffeinated bevies and decreasing your alcohol intake will actually help you get off to dreamland more quickly. Prior to any trip, you want to keep the physiological stress to your body at a minimum (and save that buzz for the beach).
What to eat when you think you’re getting sick
Sugar lowers immunity, so try limiting the sweet stuff as much as possible prior to travel. I load my family up with immune-stimulating garlic and onion dishes and pack garlic stuffed olives on the plane. Yes, we’re rather fragrant, but I’d rather stink than be sick.
Chinese medicine for travel
Max out your daily allotment for Vitamin D, C, and the other vitamins your family usually takes. While it may not prevent anyone from getting an infection, I say it’s a good insurance policy. I swear by astragalus supplements, an immunity boosting Chinese herb that I take each fall and winter. Dr. Weil reports children can take the same amount as adults, though I’ve never given any to my daughter. You’ll want to check with your own health practitioner before doing so.
Schedule a Dr’s visit before travel
If you’re going outside of Canada and the US, it’s a good idea to see a physician that specializes in travel medicine, to get the vaccinations you need and learn how to minimize your risk to diseases you may be exposed to. They can also give you prescriptions to take in case you get traveller’s diarrhea, altitude sickness, or need to make water safe to drink. Contact the travel clinic at least six to eight weeks ahead of departure and remember, they’ll also be your best resource when you get back, should you become sick.
5. Prevention is the best cure
Antibacterial hand gel is a traveller’s best friend. Be sure to spread the love around and zealously apply to all hands in your posse. Better yet, is washing your hands frequently, but so few do it properly. This isn’t me being a control freak, it’s actually legit. You’re supposed to lather up singing Happy Birthday twice through, before you can consider your hands clean.
Be sure to drink lots of sanitized water and tote DEET spray, sunscreen and over the counter medications for diarrhea and constipation. I never leave home without these travel buddies.
And in case things really go south, familiarize yourself with what medical institutions are in the vicinity of your destination. A donation to IAMAT, a not-for profit organization dedicated to providing travel health assistance, will get you a list of all the facilities with western trained doctors around the world.
Thanks to Dr. Rozemin Devraj-Kizuk, of the Palliser Medical Clinic in Lethbridge, for her advice on how to be a healthy traveller.
Does your family have good luck not getting sick while travelling? If so, I’d love to hear your secrets.