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Tips for Healthy Travel

You're all ready for your trip-

You've got your tickets in hand, your bags packed, mail delivery's been stopped and the neighbor is watching the cat. But you may have overlooked on of the key ingredients for a great vacation - making sure you and your family have a healthy trip.

Planning Ahead-

Although you can't anticipate every contingency, there are steps you can take to ensure a healthy vacation. Your travel agent can help you determine the climate at your destination and what you'll need to bring along on your trip. You've packed shorts and t-shirts appropriate for warm weather at the beach, desert, or campsite. But did you remember sunscreen, insect repellent, and bottled water? Planning ahead for a healthy trip involves taking along first-aid supplies that might be needed at your destination or along the way.  It also means remembering to pack any prescription or over-the-counter medications you or your family member take on a regular basis.  Also be sure to ask your travel agent about required vaccinations and any health department advisories that may exist for the countries you are visiting. For travelers with special needs, your travel agent can help you book the vacation that's right for you and provide such personalized services as having a wheelchair waiting at your destination.

See Your Doctor-

Before leaving for vacation, you should visit your family physician to discuss any troubling symptoms that might become a problem during your journey.  Many health concerns can be addressed prior to your trip and worries about illness or discomfort can often be alleviated by working with your doctor and your travel agent. This information offers helpful hints on travel health and how to cope with some health concerns that may be particularly troublesome during any trip away from home, such as motion sickness, overactive bladder, digestive problems, allergies, join and muscle aches or arthritis.

Common Travel Health Problems

Motion Sickness-

People who experience motion sickness are familiar with the dizziness, nausea, queasiness, and upset stomach that may accompany car, boat and plane travel. Motion sickness usually results when the brain gets conflicting information about movement. When traveling by car, try to sit in the front seat and avoid reading. When traveling by boat, sit as close to the middle of the vessel as possible and look straight ahead at the horizon, a fixed point that will not move. Today's high tech cruise ships are built for comfort with stabilizers for smooth sailing and most passengers experience little or no motion sickness. When flying , try to sit near the wing of the plane, or the side where you are accustomed to driving. Ear plugs may also help.  There are some over-the-counter and prescription medications available to help prevent motion sickness. Remember to use caution when taking them, as many cause drowsiness which can impair your ability to drive or operate a boat or plane.

Overactive Bladder-

People with overactive bladder may experience symptoms of frequency (urinating more than eight times per day), urgency (an overwhelming urge to urinate) or incontinence (a sudden, uncontrolled release of urine). Overactive bladder can be a difficult problem to cope with during trips, requiring many restroom visits. However, there is help available. If you are one of the 17 million Americans who have overactive bladder, ask your doctor about prescription medications that can help decrease the urge to urinate as often and make travel easier. For more information visit

Digestive Problems-

People with digestive disorders such as diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome may also require frequent bathroom visits during long trips. Over-the-counter antidiarrheal medications are helpful, and there are prescription medications available for people who may experience more severe symptoms.  Avoiding stress, caffeine, and certain types of high-fat foods can help keep those conditions under control.  Consult your travel agent on the availability of special airline meals to suit your dietary needs. On international journeys, your travel agent can recommend high quality hotels and tours with meals included at pre-selected restaurants.



People who suffer from allergies to molds, mites, dust, pollen, animal fur, insects, foods, and other substances should take the same precautions on vacation as they do at home. Bring any prescriptions or over-the-counter anti-allergy medications used on a regular basis. It's also a good idea to bring an antihistamine in case of accidental exposure to a substance that triggers an allergic reaction.  It also may be helpful to pack your own pillowcase for using hotels, especially if you have sensitive skin. Some hotels even offer non-allergic pillows and non-smoking rooms. Ask your travel agent for availability


Joint muscle aches and arthritis-

The inflammation of the joints that occurs with arthritis may be especially troubling during long trips that restrict  movement. Taking frequent brakes to walk around and relieve stiff joints and muscles can make car, plane and cruise trips more enjoyable. Remember to pack aspirin , anti-inflammatory drugs, or any prescription medications you normally use for arthritis. Your travel agent can arrange special assistance a the airport and recommend hotels tours, and cruised that cater to person with limited mobility.


Consult a professional

Don't let travel health concerns keep you at home. Some advance planning will assure that you have a great vacation. Talk with your doctor about any travel health issues you may have such as motion sickness, frequent urination, allergies or back or joint pain. Then, seek the advise of a professional travel agent who will help ensure that you trip is fun and worry-free.


If you experience a medical problem during your travels, ask for assistance at your hotel or lodging facility or consult a local emergency medical clinic or hospital for a doctor-finder service. Your travel agent can help you locate the hospital closest to your hotel.

Don't forget to bring...

  • More than enough prescription medication in case of loss, theft, breakage, or spillage.

  • A note from your doctor with a medical diagnosis for a chronic condition as well as medications and dosages prescribed.

  • Multivitamins

  • Medical ID bracelets or cards listing your chronic health conditions for emergency personnel

  • Extra eyeglasses, lens prescriptions, contact lens solutions

  • Extra hearing-aid batteries

  • Pillowcase from home for allergy sufferers

  • Sunscreen (at least SPF 15)

  • Bottled Water

  • Insect repellent with diethyltoluamide (DEET)

  • Ear plugs

First-Aid Kit

It's a good idea to keep a first-aid kit handy for emergencies that may arise during your trip. The kit should contain:

  • Bandages, gauze, and tape

  • Scissors

  • Tweezers

  • Thermometer

  • Antibiotic ointment

  • Antiseptic

  • Antihistamine

  • Aspirin

  • Cold and flu tablets

  • Throat lozenges

  • Anti-diarrheal medication

  • Motion Sickness medication

  • Water purification tablets

*Always pack mediations in your carry-on bag. Never pack them in checked baggage or luggage that will be stored out of your reach, where they could be exposed to harmful temperatures.


This information sponsored in part by Pharmacia Corporation, makes of Detrol La and Astanet. 

Partners in Travel Health and Education


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