Travel Health - Precautions Along the Way
Traveling comes with a
whole new set of things to think about. The following can help you stay healthy
and enjoy your trip as much as possible.
Tips for flying
Flying isn't always fun. But you can take steps to
make it easier and to feel better during and after your flight.
- Pack anything that may cause problems at
security—such as gels, liquids, sharp scissors, or pocket knives—in the luggage
you plan to check. For an updated list of what isn't allowed in carry-on
luggage, see the Transportation Security Administration website at
- Wear roomy, comfortable shoes that slip on and off. These are
easy to remove when you go through security at the airport. They will also be
more comfortable if your feet swell on the plane.
- Walk around the plane during flights to prevent dangerous blood clots during long periods of travel. Sitting still for 4 hours or more slows down the blood flow in your legs and raises your blood clot risk.
- Take steps to prevent jet lag, such as drinking plenty of liquids
and changing your sleep schedule to the new time zone.
- Sleep Problems: Dealing With Jet Lag
If you have a fear of flying, talk to your doctor. He or
she may recommend medicines, hypnosis, or
relaxation exercises to help you feel less
Water and food safety
Contaminated water and food are the most common cause of illness in
- Don't drink tap water if it may not have been properly treated.
- Don't brush your teeth with tap water.
- Drink beverages made with boiled water, such as tea
and coffee. Canned or bottled carbonated beverages (including
bottled water and soft drinks), beer, and wine are also usually safe.
- Don't accept ice in drinks. It may be contaminated.
- Dry the opening of
wet cans or bottles before taking a drink.
Travelers to backcountry areas of North America
should also take precautions with water. Even though the water in high mountain
lakes looks sparkling clear, it may be contaminated with Giardia intestinalis, the parasite that causes
giardiasis. Take simple
precautions to avoid this illness, such as boiling the
- Avoid raw fruits (unless you wash and peel them yourself), raw
vegetables, and raw or undercooked meat and seafood.
- Try to eat steaming hot, well-cooked
- Don't get foods or drinks from
- Make sure dairy products have been pasteurized.
To learn more, see the topic
Food Poisoning and Safe Food Handling.
Swimming and water sports
Swimming in contaminated fresh water, such as
ponds or rivers, can expose you to diseases. Even swimming pools with
inadequate chlorination pose a risk. Talk to your doctor if you plan on doing
recreational water sports—such as white-water rafting, adventure racing, or
kayaking—in tropical and backcountry regions.