Safeguarding your health on vacation is just as important as what you pack in your suitcase.
"Vacation is a break, but that doesn't mean you have to forego healthy habits," says Alison Sweet, MD, Medical Director, The Christ Hospital Urgent Care Centers and emergency medicine physician.
Dr. Sweet suggests five ways you can have a healthy, relaxing and safe vacation.
1. Tell your doctor your travel plans
Your doctor can prepare you for any unexpected health issues by:
- providing you with an updated list of medications
- refilling prescriptions to last your entire trip
- administering necessary immunizations for travel abroad
- advising you on any health precautions you need to take based on your medical history and your travel plans
2. Control your food and alcohol intake
Overindulging in food and alcohol is an easy vacation mistake.
- Control your portion sizes at mealtime. Load your plate with 80 percent fresh vegetables and fruit and 20 percent with anything else. Pack pre-portioned packets of nuts and dried fruit, low-sugar energy bars or fruit chips for snacking between meals.
- Watch your alcohol intake. Excess alcohol can impair your judgment, cause dehydration and lead to sleep disturbances.
3. Stay active
"There's a certain tendency for people to feel that because they are on vacation, the standard rules don't apply to your health," Dr. Sweet says. Try to work in at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity each day, but don't overexert yourself if you're not used to getting a lot of exercise.
4. Follow safe food handling tips
Follow these tips to avoid foodborne illness:
- Wash or sanitize your hands before and after handling food.
- Meat, poultry, dairy products, eggs and other perishables should be stored at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
- Cook meats and poultry to an appropriate internal temperature (130 degrees Fahrenheit for steaks and intact cuts of beef and 160 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit for ground meats and poultry).
- Pack up leftovers within one hour to avoid bacterial growth.
5. Stick to your normal schedule
Sticking closely to your normal schedule will keep your energy levels consistent and help protect your immune system. If you're switching time zones, give your internal clock time to reset by catching a few extra hours of sleep.
"Remember, vacation is supposed to be a break from our daily routine," Dr. Sweet says. "Try to live in the moment and enjoy the time off rather than over-scheduling your days."
If you overdid it on vacation and need medical attention, learn how our Urgent Care Centers can help.