Planes, Trains and Automobiles – 5 Health Tips for this Holiday Travel Season

Holiday Travel Season is right around the corner and with it comes long germ filled flights, being trapped in a car with your coughing sibling on the way to a family event, and hugging your aunt who has the sniffles. Give yourself a fighting chance this season to enjoy the long post-finals break without the interruption of runny noses and sore throats. Medical expert and Stamps Health Services (SHS), senior director, Dr. Ben Holton prepared a list of five tips to help you stay healthy when traveling this upcoming season.

Wash your Hands.

“Hand washing is one of your best defenses to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others when traveling,” said Dr. Holton. Many illnesses and conditions spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. The chemicals present in soap help break down oils on your hands and under your fingernails that can harbor germs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hand-washing with soap could prevent about 1 out of every 3 episodes of diarrheal (stomach) illness and nearly 1 out of every 6 episodes of respiratory infections when done properly. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and make sure to sanitize your hands after leaving buses, subways, taxis, and other busy areas.

Stay Hydrated.

“Dehydration can cause problems ranging from dry skin and scratchy eyes to potentially life-threatening issues. It’s important when traveling and flying to stay hydrated throughout the journey,” said Dr. Holton. Between dry plane air, busy days, and time in the sun, it’s easy to get dehydrated when traveling. Staying hydrated is an important component to staying healthy. It helps you maintain the function of every system in your body, including your heart, brain, and muscles. Fluids carry nutrients to your cells, flush bacteria from your bladder, and prevent constipation. When flying make sure to avoid sugary and alcoholic drinks which can increase your dehydration.  

Get Moving.

“Reduce your chances of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) blood clots on long flights by getting up and walking around periodically,” said Dr. Holton. Staying immobile for prolonged periods, such as on long flights or car rides, increases the risk of developing DVT blood clots in your legs. Move your legs and feet for three to four minutes per hour while seated and move about the cabin or take a bathroom break occasionally. After your travels walking, biking and hiking are all great ways to explore a new city, get in your steps and stretch your body.

Pack Medications.    

“It’s a good idea to create a first aid kit when traveling. Just make sure to do research about the country you plan to visit to see if they have any restrictions on medications brought into the country before you leave,” said Dr. Holton. A first aid kit is a great tool to avoid finding and having to translate medications when traveling abroad. SHS pharmacy is a convenient one-stop-shop on campus to find all over-the-counter (OTC) medications you may need for your travels.  

Make sure Your Vaccinations are Up To Date.

 “The best way to remain healthy when heading abroad is to know what vaccines will protect you from a common disease in the country you are visiting,” said Dr. Holton. SHS allergy, immunization, and travel clinic provide travel health information and travel vaccinations for students, faculty, and staff.  It is highly recommended that you schedule your appointment 6-8 weeks prior to traveling so that your body has time to mount an immune response to the vaccine and build up protective antibodies. Visit health.gatech.edu/appointments to schedule your appointment today.

Whether you are taking a train, plane, or automobile this holiday season make sure to take necessary precautions to protect yourself and stay healthy. For more information about travel health information and vaccinations at SHS visit health.gatech.edu/travel

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  • Planes, Trains and Automobiles – 5 Health Tips for this Holiday Travel Season