Story by: Sara Thompson on March 11, 2020
If you’re hitting the road (or going wheels-up) this spring break, take along these tips to stay healthy and have fun, no matter where the journey takes you.
Sand and snow both reflect sunlight, and you can get hit with skin-damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays even on cloudy days, so be sure to pack sunscreen for every member of the family. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends sunscreens with a sun protection factor, or SPF, of 15 or higher that says “blocks UVA and UVB” or “broad spectrum” on the label. Further recommendations include wearing protective clothing and applying a minimum of 1 ounce of sunscreen (about the size of a full shot glass) at least 20 minutes before going into the sun, and then every two hours.
If you do get a sunburn, take a pain reliever, drink plenty of water and use a topical treatment such as aloe vera to soothe pain and promote healing.
Drinking enough water is key, especially if your vacation includes air travel, physical activities and/or drinking alcohol. You may not get enough fluids if you’re on a different schedule while away from home. If you feel thirsty, you’re already behind in the hydration game. Take a water bottle with you and refill as needed. You also can eat water-rich foods such as melon or celery. Alternate alcoholic beverages with water, and don’t overdo it at the pool bar.
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Signs of dehydration include feeling thirsty, headache and dark yellow urine. Seek medical attention if you experience dizziness, rapid heartbeat or fainting.
Depending on where in the world you’re going, you might be exposed to a variety of illnesses, including those caused by viruses and allergens. Check your destination with the CDC to see what, if any, health issues you might encounter there. You may need vaccinations before you go. Take along some basic over-the-counter medications to cover your bases: a pain reliever such as aspirin or ibuprofen, an antihistamine in case of an allergic reaction and an anti-diarrheal such as Imodium in case of stomach upset.
If you have severe symptoms such as prolonged diarrhea, vomiting or fainting, go to the nearest immediate care center or emergency room.
You may be going on an adventure this spring break, but know what you can handle and know when to take it easy. That includes not going overboard with physical exercise, being sure to get enough rest, and being careful in new places. For instance, don’t go plowing down the black diamond if you haven’t mastered the bunny slope, or try to outdrink your roommate at the hotel bar. Get some sleep, eat well most of the time, and make good choices. After all, vacations are about relaxing and having fun!
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