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Published on February 19, 2016

Spring Break Health & Safety Tips

Couple sitting on a beachIt’s spring break season, and whether you’re escaping to warmer temperatures or enjoying a “stay-cation,” make sure your health and safety remain a priority. Here are a few things to think about as you make the most of your time away from work or school:

Travel

A general rule before any type of travel is to make copies or take photos of important documents and items that could get lost, stolen or ruined, like passports, credit cards, tickets and valuables. Also, leave an itinerary of phone numbers, addresses and dates with a trusted relative or friend.

Travel can take a toll on your health – public transportation and crowded spaces are germ meccas. Always keep some hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes on hand and maybe even a medical face mask during cold and flu season.

Don’t forget a first-aid kit and your prescription medications, as well as some “just-in-case” meds for sea sickness, headaches or upset stomachs. Although you should always carry your insurance card, some countries may not accept it, so check with your insurance provider about what you should know regarding healthcare options abroad.

Hotels

During check-in, the hotel staff should not say your name or room number aloud – if they do, you have the right to ask for another room. Also, do not leave your credit card on the counter as you fill out paperwork; you never know who is watching or listening.

Once you get to your room, make sure it’s actually clean! Don’t be afraid to ask for a different room if it does not meet your standards. Use those handy wipes on germy surfaces like the phone, TV remote, door handles, toilet and sink handles, and the thermostat. Keep your suitcase off the floor, if possible, and avoid draping your clothes over any furniture covered in fabric.

It’s also important to be aware of your surroundings: know where your closest exits are, be sure your locks and room phone work, and never stay if you get an uneasy feeling. Rooms on the sixth floor or lower are preferred, as fire department ladders typically don’t reach higher than that.

Sleep

Being away from home or running on a different schedule can throw off your sleep pattern. You’ll want to fit in all the fun you can, but don’t forget to make time for some decent sleep, too.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, try taking melatonin. It’s not a sleeping pill, but it helps signal your body to sleep. Try a sleep mask to block out light and ear plugs to block noise if these factors contribute to your restlessness.

If you’re traveling across time zones, it can be tempting to crash whenever you finally get to your hotel room. But, beware – napping more than an hour or two can throw you off even worse. If you’ll arrive at your destination with a good chunk of the day ahead of you, a nap in the car or on the plane is ok. However, if you’re arriving at night, try to avoid napping so you are able to sleep when you get there.

Diet

Of course, we all want to take a break from eating healthy during a vacation, but don’t go too far. A cinnamon roll at the airport is more than 700 calories and a piña colada is 350! Enjoy fresh, local foods, and keep things light so you can still find the get-up-and-go to do everything you want to do.

Avoid any food you just aren’t sure about, even if the locals rave about it. This especially applies to buffet foods that may have been sitting out for long periods of time. Bottled water is usually your best bet, even for brushing your teeth. And, just like at home, nocturnal eating is a no-no. Try to keep your diet on track just like you should with sleep.

Even if these tips don’t work for your particular destination, mode of travel or schedule, they should help you be more thoughtful about caring for yourself and your family on the go. Your doctor is also a great resource for health and safety tips, so regular checkups with a MercyCare provider are highly recommended. Have a fun – and safe – spring break!

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