Planes, trains and cruise ships are where we spend some, most or even all of our vacations. It’s also where we are most likely to get sick when we go. The cramped spaces, the various people coming and going, the curious hygiene and often inconsiderate behavior practiced in public keeps some from traveling at all. But the odds of enjoying your vacation and coming home well and rested are sky high if you keep a few simple things in mind.
1. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN: Besides packing the right clothes, sunscreen and book, take into account any health problems, temporary or chronic, that are going on with you. Make sure you have more than enough medication packed for the entire length of the trip. Also, pack your toiletries and any medicine in plastic bags. Not only does it help certain liquids from spilling during flight, but it keeps TSA agents – who handle hundreds of bags every day – from contaminating anything. Nearby tourist areas for cruises in foreign countries shouldn’t be much of a threat, but talk it over with your doctor and check in advance if certain countries recommend vaccines for things like yellow fever or malaria.
2. C, D and ZZZZ: A little extra vitamin C and D before you leave on your trip can’t hurt. And even more importantly, get a good night’s sleep the night before and all during your vacation. Nothing compromises you like lack of sleep.
3. YOU GOTTA WASH: Wash your hands frequently through the duration of your trip. It’s the single easiest and most effective way of keeping you well. If clean water isn’t immediately available, keep a small travel-size hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes in your carry-on. Cruise ships often feature hand sanitizer dispensers around the hallways. Use them.
4. VENT YOURSELF: Use the overhead air vent to blow the germs away while in flight. Not exactly foolproof, but if you turn the vent on low to medium and point the vent toward your lap, it can help provide extra resistance to any marauding gangs of pathogens nearby.
5. STRAIGHT FROM THE BOTTLE: Stick with bottled water over alcohol, soda or sugary drinks. Sugar and caffeine can make jet lag worse and alcohol will dehydrate you. If you’re on a long flight and want to brush your teeth, use only bottled water.
6. KEEP THE BEAT: The risk of deep vein thrombosis in flight for some is high enough that giving your legs a little bit of exercise, even while you’re seated, is a very good idea. Contract the muscles in your calves at regular intervals through the flight. Or, if you’re listening to music, tap your feet. Tapping along will use all the muscles in your lower legs and keep the blood flowing. And another reason to drink lots of water is it forces you to get up and walk to the bathroom.
7. BEHIND THE MASK: People wearing N95 masks might be off-putting, or even alarming to Americans, but are commonly seen in Asian countries and are a great way to keep the germs at bay. They offer 95 percent protection from airborne pathogens and can be bought at any home improvement store. If you have to travel and you’re the one who’s sick, it’s also the nicest thing you can do for your fellow passengers.
8. GET OUT AND GO: Cruise ships now feature workout rooms, exercise classes and various athletic activities. Use them. Sitting around and eating won’t make you any healthier. Go for regular walks around the decks. Also, take advantage of bike rentals at certain ports of call or go for a jog while seeing the sights.
9. RESTAURANT APPS: If you’re concerned about finding vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or any kind of healthy restaurant while traveling, several apps are available in the iTunes store and other sites.