The Northwest is full of individuals and families who love to travel. Whatever your plans might be to see the state, the country or the world, some important habits and resources can help you stay safe and healthy.
Going hiking, camping or glamping? It’s a good idea to have the following in the car trunk in case of an emergency:
▪ Extra water and nonperishable snacks
▪ Antibacterial wipes
▪ First-aid kit
▪ Extra prescription glasses
▪ Extra medications (to cover up to 72 hours)
▪ Change of clothes
▪ Some extra cash
▪ List of emergency contacts
Don’t overlook the big stuff. Buckle up and stay off the phone while you’re driving. With kids in the car, this is doubly important, as they will learn those safety habits from you.
If you get sleepy, stop to sleep or find a safe place to pull over and move around to wake up.
If you’re taking an airplane to your adventure, medical considerations sometimes arise. Some of the most common health problems that could complicate your flight are related to heart disease, diabetes, COPD, pregnancy, ear conditions or panic attacks. If you have one of those, or if you’re concerned about how your body might react to flying, talk to your physician for advice about the safety of air travel as it relates to your health situation.
If you check luggage, put your medications in your carry-on bag.
Near or far, do your research. From political unrest to natural disasters — know before you go. The U.S. State Department has you covered. Its Alerts and Warnings page lets you enter your destination to receive information on local laws, health care, and safety and security warnings.
Have the immunizations you need and pack with your destination in mind. You might want to include sunscreen and mosquito repellant, for example. One easy way to do this is to visit the fantastic CDC Travelers’ Health Destinations page. On that page, you can choose what kind of travel you’re doing, such as traveling with children, and then choose your destination from an alphabetical drop-down menu. When you do, the CDC will tell you which vaccines and medicines you need, offer tips for how to stay healthy and safe, list recent travel health notices, and offer a health and safety packing list.
You should carry paper copies of certain documents when you’re out and about in the world. Among these are copies of your passports, credit cards, driver’s license, plane tickets, prescriptions (for your glasses, too), a list of the medications you take, and a contact list (including the nearest embassy, and nearest clinic/hospital, if you’re overseas). If you can’t bear to bring a file folder, snap pictures with your phone (and email them to yourself as backup).
Ideally, you won’t need access to these copies while you’re traveling. If you do, however, it will make life a lot easier, and potentially less frightening, if you have them.
Keeping copies of important documents is a good way to be prepared for natural disasters (traveling or not) too.
Getting ready to travel can be complicated, but the better prepared you are, the better able you’ll be to enjoy your time away and remain in good health. Bon voyage!
Reach Dr. Rachel C. Wood, health officer for Thurston and Lewis counties, at 360-867-2501, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @ThurstonHealth on Twitter.