We have all been there. You are packing for your trip and trying to decide what to bring. Choosing your essentials is not an easy task when you consider all the variables that await you at your destination.
What will the weather be like? Will it be hot, cold moderate, dry rainy? What type of activities will there be? Will you have a choice of active sports, leisure lounging, business meetings, and formal evenings out? Sadly, many travelers’ thoughts do not stray too far from the clothes and cosmetics content. Whatever your destination, you should pack for wellness and plan for health.
A small first aid kit is certainly recommended for any eventuality. Not enough room in the suitcase? Many of the items are sold in travel size for your packing convenience. Include an over the counter drug for pain or fever such as aspirin or ibuprophen. Add an antihistamine, which works as a decongestant and for motion sickness.
Traveling tends to disrupt the gastric process so consider bringing your favorite medicine for upset stomach. No matter how carefully you try to adhere to the no drinking of water and the trying of new foods, you may find yourself with intense diarrhea. Bring a rehydration formula should you find yourself in such a situation. Also add an antiseptic and antibiotic for cuts and scrapes. Zap those bugs’ sting with calamine lotion. Include bandages with several in varying size. Add a bag of throat lozenges. Scissors or tweezers is a good idea. Thermometer – do not bring one with mercury, they are banned by the airlines. No matter the destination, bring insect repellent, sunscreen and lip balm. A small book on first aid is always helpful. Wrap it all up and put into a small hard case for protection and durability.
Some traveling tips to keep in mind. Choose dry tablets or dry form rather than liquid to avoid spills. As always, check with your doctor as to what to include per your health status. Keep your prescription drugs separate and always pack them in your carry-on and keep them in their original containers.
When flying, keep in mind that the air in the pressurized cabins is extremely dry. Drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine and alcohol. Skip the in-flight meal, which is high in protein and fat. This combination is hard for the body to digest and not a good choice for air travel. Bring your own snacks instead that are high in carbohydrates and low in fat and protein. Avoid large meals and consume small frequent meals instead.
The dreaded travelers’ diarrhea can easily occur and is caused by many factors. The change in diet with unfamiliar bacteria in food and water is a likely suspect. Lack of sleep, change of schedule and the stress that accompanies traveling creates an unstable balance in the system. Prevention is the best method. Drink what you know is safe such as bottled water, not tap water. Do not use ice in beverages – they probably were made with the local water supply. And do not forget the water used when you brush your teeth. Use purified water instead of tap. Only eat meats, poultry, eggs, and seafood that are thoroughly cooked. To avoid contact with unfamiliar bacteria, do not eat raw vegetables or fruits. If you do, choose ones with a peel, such as bananaa, and always wash your hands before eating.
Going to great heights? Be warned that altitude sickness occurs 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) or above. Symptoms of altitude sickness include shortness of breath, headache, nausea and fatigue. Be sure to drink plenty of purified water to avoid dehydration. Avoid alcohol for the same reason, as it is a diuretic. Lighten your meals with the low fat variety, cut down on the salt and increase the carbohydrates. Small frequent meals throughout the day are much better on the system than large fewer meals. Unless prescribed by a doctor, avoid sedatives. Take it easy and try not to stress. Take naps throughout the day. Ascend gradually if you can. It takes 10 days for your body to adjust to changes in altitudes as it takes that long for the body to create new red blood cells.
Pack light? Yes, everyone can pack light. Lighter bags decrease the amount of stress you deal with in keeping up with your stuff and it saves your shoulders and back. Color coordinate your clothes to mix and match. In summer weather, bring one jacket or sweater. In winter climates bring one pair of shorts. Bring clothes that are easy to wash and dry quickly. If you are bringing a bulky jacket, wear it or carry with you to save room in your bags. Pack your toiletries in a container that will last through the trip and pack only what is needed.
At your destination, know your surroundings. Invest in a good local map and learn your way around the area. Consult your hotel concierge about unsavory places in the area – every city has them. Keep your head about you and do not make yourself a target for crime. Stay in well-traveled and well-lit areas. Do not flash your money in public and always be aware of your surroundings.
If you become lost, go inside a store or restaurant to ask directions. It is best not to consult anyone on the street as this marks you as a tourist. Fanny packs also mark you as a tourist. While fanny packs are convenient and better than shoulder purses, a small pouch worn around the neck and worn under clothing is best. This keeps your valuables safe and enables you to blend in with the public.
Do not travel with valuable jewelry or lots of cash. If you do have valuables with you, lock them in the hotel safe. Use credit cards or travelers’ checks for purchases.
Keep your passport safe by locking it in your room safe. Make a photocopy of the identification page and keep the photocopy with you. If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation where your stuff has been lost or stolen, all you have lost is credit cards that you can cancel, travelers’ checks that you can replace and a copy of your passport, not the original.
Try to relax as much as possible. It is better to pace yourself than try to cram everything in a small amount of time. Avoiding stress is easier said than done but it can be done. Remember that you only have a limited amount of time to explore your destination and if you do not get all your sightseeing in, it is not the end of the world. It is much better to leisurely enjoy yourself.
Take time for yourself. If you are tired, make sure you take naps, particularly when traveling to different time zones. It will take your body several days to fully adjust so be sure to allow yourself the time to become acclimated to the area.
Take a bath. Drinking water is not the only method of coping with dehydration. Bathing replenishes the body’s desire for moisture and is a luxurious treat as well. Take the time to enjoy your meals. Do not rush about and eat only as an afterthought. Appreciate the culinary delights of your destination.
Above all, make time for you and pack items suitable for you. Consult your doctor prior to making any travel arrangements and thoroughly discuss what you need to pack based on your health status.