We are in the beginning of the holiday season in the United States and throughout the world. Many people travel to visit family during these months, including some who may be traveling with a chronic illness — all of which have added complications due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We at NeedyMeds have some tips for healthy travel over the holidays along with suggestions for staying safe and mitigating the spread of coronavirus.
- Getting fully vaccinated and/or receiving boosters of available COVID-19 vaccines is the best way to protect yourself from infection while travelling. Be sure to bring your vaccination record card or other form of proof of vaccination for venues/services that require it.
- Wear a mask in public spaces — even if fully vaccinated.
- Consider any special health needs for children, pregnant women, people with disabilities, chronic illness, or weakened immune systems. It may be best to get tested for COVID-19 before visiting anyone at risk of severe complications — even if fully vaccinated.
- Learn the health implications of your destination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the information you may need. If you are traveling abroad, the CDC has a resource to see what inoculations are required and other things to keep in mind about different destinations.
- Bring all your medications. Keep your medications in the original, labelled bottles. Keep the medicine in your carry-on luggage and never pack your pills in a suitcase you plan to check.
- If you are flying, give yourself enough time to make it through parking, security, and other lines. Be prepared and patient when encountering delays in travel.
- If you are driving, plan your route ahead of time and pack a GPS, smart phone, or up-to-date road maps as a backup. Remember to get out of the car to stretch and get fresh air periodically.
- Wash/sanitize your hands often, no matter how you are travelling. Keeping your hands clean is an important step to avoiding sickness and spreading illnesses, especially while travelling or preparing food.
- Sleep well the night before travel. While anticipation and excitement can make restful sleep difficult, being prepared for changing time zones and alert for the journey are essential.
- Eat well before hitting the road. A wholesome diet not only keeps one’s immune system in fighting shape and gives ample energy for the trip ahead, but it will help travelers avoid expensive and unhealthy junk food.
- If you have a chronic illness, doctors recommend taking a health history information sheet (HHIS) that includes diagnosis, physician and emergency contact information, medications and dosages info. Travelers should bring a copy of all prescriptions along with their medication in its original packaging. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has guidelines for passengers with disabilities and other health conditions to avoid delays or complications if traveling by air. A medic alert bracelet or first aid kit may also ease the mind of those worried about managing their illness abroad.
The holidays are a great opportunity to enjoy being with loved ones, but they are not without their demands. Physical, emotional, and mental stress can accompany the holiday joy and can make everything a little harder for those already experiencing difficulties with their health. We at NeedyMeds have a few more tips for staying healthy during the holiday season:
- Stay warm. The holiday season brings winter to much of the United States and cold temperatures can cause health problems, especially the very young and elderly adults. Stay dry and dress warmly in several layers.
- Eat healthy & stay active. Holidays are often times of hearty meals followed by sweet desserts, but it is important to keep a balanced diet. Don’t skip out on fruits and vegetables at family dinners, and try not to be weighed down by the “food coma” — get out and be active.
The holidays can be stressful; familial obligations, cooking, cleaning, shopping, and even less sunlight can contribute to the deterioration of mental health. It is important to balance commitments,