“Vacation” Got You Sick?

All that fun in the sun and holiday break from work or school.
Maybe you went on a ski trip instead of to the beach.

What were you thinking before you left the house?
Maybe making sure you got the tickets, credit cards, and passports.
Did you forgot to pack the sunscreen thinking you won’t burn?
You didn’t pack the right type of clothes for change in climate?
You left the cold medicines and anti-germ gel at home?
Stressing out planning it all.

Let’s discuss this in detail why people get sick on their vacation.

Traveling: The plane …The plane

1) Germs, bacteria, and viruses never take a break from making you their home. They are anywhere and everywhere. Most people do not protect themselves from germs while on vacation, especially if they are flying. Airports and airplanes are super cold most of the time in order to control germs. Hot and stuffy planes tend to make some people get sick on takeoff and landing. The handle on the restroom door has germs and the soap may not kill the germs waiting for you. People on the plane around you were coughing and sneezing. The air in the plane is re-circulated and you caught what everyone else has. Another wonderful item about traveling is jet lag. Your normal circadian rhythm becomes altered from the changing of time zones, depending how far you are traveling. Pack your medications in a carry on and it might be a good idea to throw in a change of clothes just in case your luggage gets lost, something gets spilled on you, or someone throws up near you. All my years flying, I have seen plenty of these scenarios. Teenagers usually do not dress appropriately for cold airplanes and some parents are not prepared with their infants. I have seen people walk in the airplane restroom with no shoes, which is really no different than an outside state fair john.

Hotel not Motel

2) A hotel is generally cleaner and has a safe deposit box in the closet. Less dust mites and bugs to contend with as well. Keep in mind that hotel rooms are as germ-filled as a plane. Wash hands frequently, use the towels to grip ahold of things or wipe them down with disinfectant cloths. Don’t sit in the tub, take a shower and put down a hand towel in tub. Hotel room air conditioners take in moisture and adding the hot weather makes it a prime place to grow bacteria. You may ask if the hotel has allergy reduced rooms or reduced allergy bed items that will help your immune system not be so reactive to local pollen.

Eating foreign local food or airport food

3) Really hate to scare you on this one but it happens. I have seen flight attendants get sick on airport or local food, myself included. Salmonella and E-coli are waiting for your next bite of that spicy sauce. Food items are cooked and made in a foreign restaurant by foreign people who may or may not have the best hygiene. Lettuce for salads are washed in foreign water. Be careful not to over-indulge in too many sweets. If you happen to try tasty street vendor food, make sure it is piping hot and completely cooked. I have seen little kids coming back from Cabo with food poisoning or a parasite.

Alcohol Consumption on the GO

4) Over-indulging in alcohol. Party-Party-Party. Get on the plane and drink it up. Probably will spend the first day of vacation with a hangover. Your friends or extended family members buy you another one. The mimosas or bloody marys start the day off right, a few mixed drinks for lunch, and onto wine for dinner. You are on vacation and time to relax, enjoy, and celebrate. Maybe a 9-night cruise. Maybe a luxury cabin in the mountains. In any case, alcohol is very dehydrating with 75% adults in dehydration status to begin with (that’s a fact). Signs of dehydration can include nausea, a sore or dry throat or mouth, and a loss of appetite for food. I have seen people pass out on the plane from dehydration. Most experts say to drink 8-9 classes of water a day. If you get thirsty, a sure sign you are already dehydrated. You will lose water from breathing, urination, perspiration, and bowel movements. More consideration on dehydration will be how active you are and the temperature in your location. Consuming alcohol also lowers your immune system.

Over exposed to the Sun – Heating it Up

5) Just 15 minutes outside can lead to sunburn, but you won’t notice it until later. Thoroughly apply sunscreen (30 SPF or higher) and reapply every two hours. The hottest part of the day and when you will burn the easiest is 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Drink plenty of fluids and stay in the shade. Lying in the pool will not save you, in fact the sun will reflect off the water and you will burn more. Drinking alcohol and being over heated will lead to nausea and passing out. Make sure you wear beach shoes when walking the beach or in the water. This saves you from bacteria and other microbes from entering a small cut. Also, be aware of mosquitos that may be carrying viruses.

Stress and Vacation go together.

6) Vacation is a lot of work. Planning, saving, and preparing all adds up to stress. Trying to finish that last work project or trying to pass the final exam. Getting all the kid’s clothes and play items packed. Leaving your house hopefully with a neighborhood watch or visiting friend to watch the dogs. You must think about the happiness and the wellbeing of the whole family in a different surrounding with all the extra activity. You are finding out the vacation feels like work. The change in routine is stressful and lowers your immune system with stress cortisol on the rise. Things will not go as planned so accept that ahead of time and roll with the punches. Take Naps. Be in the moment and follow the below suggestions.

Friendly suggestions for a timeless vacation:
Please don’t drink the water in another country. Your body is not accustomed to their molecules. Bottled water is the safest. Take a pic of the parking post number where you parked your car at the airport. Carry disinfectant wipes and gels. Have a small size disinfectant spray for those air conditioners. Carry nausea pills and antihistamines. Be cautious and carefully watch what you touch. Wash hands frequently. Take a little homemade first aid kit with Pepto-Bismol tabs, anti-acid tabs, cold remedies, cough drops, aspirins, and medications you may need. Carry straws for your children and disposable utensils. Carry snacks just in-case there is a delay and you are on the plane an extra couple of hours, especially if you have children. Carry a small umbrella in case it rains. Sunscreen, sunglasses and shade hat. Carry Imodium and oregano tablets for killing parasites and not having your vacation ruined by severe intestinal upset.

By now you are wondering if going on vacation is worth the money, hassles, and the piled-up work when you get back. (Heck Yea!) You have worked hard all year and the family has been waiting to get on that plane.

Just maybe you have had the happiest and healthiest vacation ever. You drank lots of water, got plenty of sleep, and you never got sick. No sunburn, nor passing out from drinking. No money or cards stolen. No parasites or bacteria bad flora. You’re not worried or stressed about returning to school or work. Cheers to you!


To Your Health!

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