There is little else that can broaden your mind and fill your life with stories to tell than traveling can. There also is little else that can be worse than getting sick when you are far from home.

Fernweh (n) an urge to travel even stronger than wanderlust.

Germs (n) vicious hitchhiking microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi that can make you sick and ruin a great vacation.

Leisure Sickness (n) Dutch term [translated] for the common phenomenon of getting sick while on vacation

 

Nevertheless, germs happen, and when traveling, you are exposed to a whole new world of these sneaky and potentially harmful microscopic hitchhikers. Preventative measures are key to avoiding getting sick and as it has been said “is better than any cure.”

WASH YOUR HANDS

Basic. Right? Yet, so under-practiced. As anyone in any capacity in the medical field will tell you:

  1. Hand hygiene is key to infection control.
  2. Washing your hands is essential in preventing the spread of infection.
  3. Just wash your hands because of this cool but gross but cool photo:
Germs on Hands

8 year old handprint in petri dish after playing outside

Think of all those surfaces we touch in any given place – elevator buttons, door handles, doorways, escalator rails, chairs, tables, countertops, light switches, taxi seats and seatbelts, other people’s hands, your own hands because those airborne germy droplets land there too, and so much more. Btw, studies show washing hands is much more effective than wearing masks.

Thinking of these germ infested surfaces brings to mind the many possible illnesses we can catch as we touch our nose, eyes, mouth, ears (aka ports of entry). These possible illnesses include pink eye, flu, novovirus, stomach bugs that cause vomiting and diarrhea, staph infections, MRSA, and the list goes on.

Other tips to help you avoid “leisure sickness”

  • Stay Hydrated – Drink bottled water or better yet for your wallet and for the environment, use a water bottle with a built-in filter.
  • Avoid Excessive Consumption of Alcohol – Dehydrating. Negatively affects sleep.
  • Get Plenty of Sleep – Think about your circadian rhythms (your internal clock, your normal sleep/awake schedule) and try to maintain it. Want to avoid jet lag? Read this. Also,
  • Be Active – Before, during and after your trip, stay active. The benefits of exercise on your physical, mental, emotional health and your immune system are numerous and well-documented. Exercise. Just Do It.

Simple tips. Oftentimes forgotten. All can greatly reduce your chances of getting sick on your vacation

Bon voyage!

One more thing – Don’t forget your sunscreen!