Once you are on the road, whether that means flying or driving, keep health and safety precautions in mind. Whether you’re headed to the beach, the mountains, or traveling internationally, the risk of falling ill or having an accident are always there.  The tips below cover some of the major events that can ruin a vacation, but this list is not exhaustive. Any time you are in unfamiliar surroundings, it is wise to remain alert, stay aware of what is happening around you, and follow good basic health practices.  

  • Protect Against Traveler’s Diarrhea
One of the most common health problems when traveling is stomach issues, primarily diarrhea. While not so much a problem within the US, international travelers need to take extra precautions when visiting other countries. The major steps to avoid this bug are:
  • Eat only well-prepared, hot food that has been thoroughly cooked
  • Drink only water from factory-sealed containers and avoid ice which may have been made from local water
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often and before eating.  Keep your hands away from your nose and mouth. 
  • Diarrhea can be severe, so should you or a fellow traveler catch it, be sure to drink plenty of fluids and follow your doctor’s instructions. Over the counter medications may be needed as well as antibiotics.  

  • Be Aware of Local Scams
Street thefts, pickpockets, and local scammers may be operating in areas where you vacation, so use situational awareness to stay knowledgeable of your surroundings. Keep your personal valuable safe and learn about the various cons that are out there. For example, the broken taxi meter scam is popular at some destinations. The fraud happens when the taxi driver explains the meter is broken and tells you what the fare will be.  Of course, the quoted fare will be higher than the metered fare. Check online for many of the popular local scams. 

  • Watch for Altitude Sickness
Altitude sickness is common when people quickly climb, usually, to above 8000 feet. The illness is caused by reduced barometric pressure and lower oxygen levels at these higher elevations.  Adjusting slowly to higher altitudes allows your body to adapt and helps alleviates this problem. Children are particularly susceptible, so monitor young people carefully if traveling to higher elevations over spring break.  Although altitude sickness is widely known, many people may not realize it can lead to life-threatening conditions. Both High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE – fluids collecting in the lungs) or High-Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE – cerebral inflammation/confusion and lack of coordination) can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. Returning to lower elevations, drinking sufficient liquids, and seeking medical assistance for confusion or shortness of breath can help control symptoms.

Much is not known about the coronavirus, but taking common-sense steps to avoid this virus is recommended by the CDC. Certainly, avoiding areas known to be widely suffering from the illness can help. Also, the CDC offers a complete list of suggested preventative steps to avoid this bug. A partial list includes:  

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Use an alcohol (min 60%) based hand sanitizer if water is not available. 
  • See others on CDC’s website.
Spring break is an excellent time for families to shake off the winter doldrums and explore the world. Whether your spring break destination is near or far, please make it a healthy, safe, and special time for the family. With some careful planning, safety measures, and health precautions, this spring break can be one of your best.