How to avoid getting sick before a vacation

By: Health Local Staff Jan 23, 2012
  Article
avoid getting sick

Nothing ruins a vacation more than getting sick! Here are tips to stay healthy before & during your winter getaway.

Now that the holidays are over, and you are back to work and if you have kids, they are back in school, there’s no mistaking what’s going on, is there? Winter is here! The wonder has long since left “Winter Wonderland,” and it’s been replaced with a sense of blah and uggh! The giddiness you felt watching the first snowfall has quickly turned into drudgery, as you have to – once again – dig your car out of the snow. Although dressing in layers is the best way to deal with fluctuating temperatures, you resemble the Michelin tire man, and this is doing nothing for your self-image. The short days that have turned into long and frigid nights are oh so romantic as you climb into bed next to your partner, donning toe socks and thick flannel PJs.

Enough is enough, right? You need a vacation! Where to: México, Cuba, the Dominican Republic? You almost don’t care! You want to swap the sexy Michelin tire man suit for a bikini and replace the hot chocolate for a Mai Tai. You book the tickets and now the challenge will be to stay healthy between now and when you leave and of course, whilst you’re there. Here are just a few tips to consider:

Eat Your Greens and Drink Plenty of Water
This is not the time to enter the “all you can eat” contest at the local buffet. This is the time to minimize the meat and carb intake and increase the servings of veggies, which are rich in vitamins and minerals. Vegetables, especially the green ones, will help you stave off both short and long term illnesses. And since you’re on the right path with the veggies, you might want to up your intake of Omega 3s. Apart from having the ability to reduce hypertension, heart disease and stroke, in the immediate, omega-3 rich foods boost the immune system. Salmon, mackerel, many fruits and veggies and walnuts contain high levels of omege-3s.

Although most of us think we can decrease our water intake in the winter, this is a big mistake. Continue drinking between eight and twelve glasses a day. Water flushes out toxins, hydrates your organs and moisturizes your nasal passages. Allowing them to dry out is like asking for germs to host party inside your nose and throat and then invite all their friends.

Get Your Flu Shot
The only thing that should prevent you from getting your flu shot is if you have an allergy to one of the ingredients. Everyone should have a shot. Talk with your doctor about timing this with your plans to fly.

Get Plenty of Sleep and Say No to Stress!
On average most people require at least 8 hours of sleep. Don’t short change yourself for the sake of whatever is on TV or that book you’re deeply involved in. Sleep is as essential as eating well and drinking plenty of water.

Have you ever noticed how when you are stressed out – whether because of work, the kids or family drama - that as soon as you become embroiled, you get a cold? If your sister wants to drag you into problems she’s having with your parents, her husband or her kids, politely decline. This is good advice all year round, but especially true as you are trying to stay healthy and not get ill before your holiday. This is equally important if you find yourself becoming a referee between two people at work. Just say No! You don’t need the hassle.

Wash Your Hands
This may trigger an “aha, that’s an obvious one” response, but in practice, it’s one that is seldom done. When to wash your hands:

  • When you come home from wherever you have been
  • Before and after you use the restroom
  • After shaking hands with kids (cute as they are, they are magnets for germs)
  • Before and after you handle food – especially meats
  • Anytime you feel your hands are not so fresh

Use warm water and soap and rub hands vigorously for at least 30 seconds. If you find that your hands are getting dried out, don’t decrease the hand washing; moisturize them with lotion.

Repeat as Necessary
Just because you’ve made it on the plane and to your resort unscathed and sniffle free, this is not the time to become lax. People come from all over the world to soak up the rays the same way you have. It’s a dangerous assumption to make that people take your health as seriously as you do your own. Children aren’t the only ones who “forget” to wash hands after using the restroom. Plenty of adults will come out of the stall and run the water just long enough to smooth their hair, and then take that same “poopy” hand and hold tight to the door handle as they leave the bathroom. It’s a wise idea to use a towel to open the door of any public restroom – wherever in the world you may be. Many are more than happy to sneeze and cough into their hands and then shake yours. Not everyone sneezes and coughs into the elbow, as is more proper and spreads fewer germs.

Last But Not Least
Have fun! While you’re on holiday, don’t agonize over anything that is back home. No matter what it is, it can wait. Relax and have a great time!

The Health Local Staff is a team of writers and experts dedicated to bringing you the latest health, nutrition and lifestyle information at www.healthlocal.ca.