By: John Gobbels
You’ve planned and packed and you’re all ready for your trip, but you may have overlooked one of the key ingredients for a great vacation: taking the necessary steps to make sure you and your family have a safe and healthy trip.
COMMON TRAVEL AILMENTS
Motion sickness is an unpleasant problem for many travelers; however, there are some over-the-counter and prescription medications available to help with this. If you wish to combat motion sickness on your own, try the following:
When traveling by car, try to sit in the front seat and, if you can, avoid reading as it only heightens the feeling of motion sickness.
When traveling by boat, sit as close to the middle of the vessel as possible and look straight ahead at the horizon (a fixed point that will not move). Today’s high-tech cruise ships are built for comfort, with stabilizers for smooth sailing, and most passengers experience little-to-no motion sickness.
When flying, try to sit near the wing of the plane, or the side where you are accustomed to driving. Ear-plugs may also help.
It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of a vacation and get dehydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, and don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Avoid caffeinated drinks, which can dehydrate you even more, and limit alcohol.
People who suffer from allergies should take the same precautions on vacation as they do at home. Bring any medications used on a regular basis. It’s a good idea to bring an antihistamine in case of accidental exposure to a substance that triggers an allergic reaction. It may also be helpful to pack your own pillowcase for use in hotels.
The inflammation of the joints that occurs with arthritis may be especially troubling during long trips that restrict movement. Taking frequent breaks to walk around and relieve stiff joints and muscles can make car, plane, and cruise trips more enjoyable. Remember to pack aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, or any prescription medications you normally use for arthritis.
There’s nothing more miserable than getting sick while on vacation. For most destinations, the major health risk to travelers is diarrhea, which may be easily avoided. In general, common sense prevails. When in doubt, steer clear of uncooked meat, raw fruits and vegetables and unpasteurized milk products. Drink only bottled water (although the tip of the bottle may be contaminated, so wipe it clean before drinking from it) or water that has been boiled for at least 20 minutes.
FIRST AID KIT
It’s a good idea to keep a first-aid kit handy for any emergencies that may arise during your trip. It should include:
|A first-aid manual||Throat lozenges|
|Bandages, gauze and tape||Anti-diarrheal medication|
|Scissors||Motion sickness medication|
|Tweezers||Water purification tablets|
|Antibiotic ointment||Insect repellent|
|Cold and flu tablets||Health and vaccination records|
PERSONAL SAFETY TIPS
Work with your travel agent to get as much information as possible about the destination, especially if you will be traveling alone.
Stay in hotels on well-traveled streets in safer areas of any city. The more expensive hotels usually have better security. Stay on lower-level floors in case of fire or other need to evacuate quickly. Avoid the first floor, as it may not be safe from burglars.
Your travel agent can arrange for transfers from the airport or port if necessary. Taxis or private car hires are recommended as you are more insulated. Most airports, ports and train stations have areas clearly marked for taxis and car service pick-up. Do not enter any vehicle that does not have a proper license or does not pick you up from the designated area.
If you will be renting a car, get maps in advance and clearly write out the directions from the airport to your hotel. If you need to stop for directions, go to well-lit public areas. Keep the phone numbers of your destinations with you.
Keep a Low Profile
Do not discuss your travel plans or itinerary publicly. Vary your schedule if possible and vary travel routes when you can.
Maintain a low profile and dress down if possible. Leave the expensive jewelry and watches at home and do not display large amounts of cash. Look like a person of modest means and do not leave your itinerary or other sensitive business information in your hotel room.
Out and About
Keep your valuables including passports, etc., in a money belt concealed or use the hotel safe to store valuables. Keep a copy of your passport with you at all times, but separate from where you are carrying your passport. In high-risk countries it is a good idea to check in with the American Embassy and provide them with a copy of your passport in case you need to have it replaced. Pickpockets and thieves operate widely in many cities around the world, but especially near tourist attractions.
When using your credit card, keep an eye on it until it is returned to you. Always verify that it is your credit card before storing it again.
TRAVEL ASSISTANCE & INSURANCE
Finally, the best thing to keep healthy and happy while on vacation is to purchase a travel assistance membership like MedjetAssist and compliment that with a good travel insurance policy to protect your financial investment. Remember, while some travel insurance policies have limited medical benefits none of them will bring you back to your hospital of choice in your home country like a MedjetAssist membership will. Take trips, not chances. Pack your Medjet Card!
Even with the most well-planned winter vacations, mishaps and misadventures can occur. Whether you’re skiing or snowboarding near your backyard or in the backcountry, you can have a collision with another skier or with a tree or other object, resulting in head trauma or other ills, such as a torn ligament or tendon. Some people go backcountry skiing and find themselves in avalanche-prone areas with potentially fatal results. Even staying at a cushy resort that’s at high altitude can result in potentially life-threatening health problems, whether you’re fit or not.
For example, it’s important to recognize the first signs of altitude sickness: you become nauseated, develop a headache, lose your appetite, and have trouble sleeping.
To reduce the likelihood of developing altitude sickness in the first place, make time in your vacation schedule to ascend slowly to your destination, especially if you live at sea level. For example, if your ski resort is 8,000 feet or higher, spend at least two days at 5,000 feet before moving higher. And, then if you intend on going even higher, say 10,000+ feet, spend at least three days at 8,000 feet first. Most people don’t do this, of course.
Once you’re at altitude, even if you’re healthy, drink plenty of fluids to reduce the likelihood of dehydration, avoid taking sleeping pills or tranquilizers, exercise lightly at first, and schedule some rest days.
If you’ve had problems with altitude sickness before or even if you haven’t and you plan to travel above 12,000 feet, discuss with your physician about taking Diamox, a prescription medication that could prevent altitude sickness if you take it before you arrive at high altitude and can also help you recover from altitude sickness. Your physician will discuss potential side effects and whether you are a candidate to take this diuretic.
But staying prepared for winter sports and activities also means contingency planning with a reliable air-medical transport membership program such as MedjetAssist. Sure, there are plenty of insurance plans, some even through your platinum card. But what makes Medjet different from the rest is that they can arrange a medical transfer to the hospital of your choice anywhere in the world regardless of the medical emergency and with no exclusions for pre-existing conditions (if you’re under 75 years old) so long as the member is 150 miles from home. And this is whether you’re vacationing in the U.S. or you’re at an international locale.
Jeanine Barone is a travel writer whose articles can be found in National Geographic Traveler, Conde Nast Traveller (UK), and dozens of other top-tier magazines and newspapers. She’s also the author of a new travel tips e-book, The Travel Authority: Essential Tips for Hassle-Free Travel, which provides more than 200 tips to help everyone from novice travelers to road warriors, whether they’re traveling on business or in the backcountry. This e-book is available for the Kindle, Nook, iPad and as a downloadable pdf from Barone’s blog: www.jthetravelauthority.com
The 2012 Summer Olympics kicks off in just a few days. If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend the events, it will definitely be a thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime experience. The city of London has spent the last several years upgrading their infrastructure in order to accommodate the estimated 5.3 million visitors that will converge on the city of over 8 million people. However, local authorities have been encouraging visitors to exercise a few safety precautions to ensure that their visit is not only fun, but safe.
There will be no public parking available at any of the Olympic venues, meaning travel to and from the games will be by foot or public transportation. London already had in place one of the most efficient public transportation systems in the world. However, in preparation for the games, billions of pounds have been invested in upgrading the network, including the addition of the Javelin, a high-speed rail service.
London’s subway system – also known as the Tube or the Underground – will likely be the most efficient way to travel around the city. Taxi cabs are available, but at price. Also, don’t plan on hailing a cab curbside. Taxis are required by law only to pick up patrons that have booked in advance. Accepting a fare otherwise is illegal. Because of the crowds, you should expect some travel delays. Therefore, make plans accordingly to accommodate this.
Avoiding Scams and Pickpockets
If you have ever attended a highly anticipated concert or sporting event, it is likely you have encountered scalpers. These individuals are looking to either sell real tickets at several times their face value or sell very convincing looking fake copies. While police have successfully shut down several websites selling bogus tickets, it is impossible to locate and prosecute every criminal looking to make an extra buck at someone else’s expense. Only buy tickets from an official Olympic dealer and be wary of individuals selling tickets outside the sporting venues.
Another common problem is pickpockets. Large crowds are a pickpocket’s playground, so take a few extra precautions to make sure someone doesn’t swipe your wallet. Men should move their wallets to their front pocket. Women should wear their handbags slung across their chests so it can’t be snatched off their shoulder. Don’t wear fancy or valuable jewelry and don’t flash large amounts of cash. This is just acts as an invitation for thieves.
Safety Tips and Healthy Habits
If you live in a country where drivers travel on the right side of the road, it may take awhile to get accustomed London drivers traveling on the left side of the road. Even if you do not plan on driving, you still need to be cautious crossing streets and intersections. Also, while London is considered to be a safe city for tourists, avoid going out alone, late at night, and venturing into dark, dimly lit areas.
If there was ever a time to be obsessive over healthy habits, it’s while you are traveling. Wash your hands frequently and carry hand sanitizer for those times when you don’t have access to soap and water. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and apply sunscreen frequently. When purchasing food items, look for a hygiene rating from the local government posted on the restaurant’s windows or doors. If you don’t see one, use common sense. Does the place look clean? Does the food look like it is properly refrigerated? If you wouldn’t eat it at home, stay away from it.
Finally, there are certain diseases that may not be so common back home, but it is a different case when traveling abroad. Before you leave, make sure you are up-to-date on all your vaccines to avoid bringing something unexpected home with you.
In the Event of an Emergency
Should you become seriously sick or injured, dialing 999 will connect your to London’s emergency services. If you are taken to a hospital, you will likely be admitted to the A&E (Accident and Emergency) instead of the ER. Because many health insurance plans do not cover incidents occurring in other countries, be sure to check with your provider and consider purchasing travel insurance. It is also a good idea to have an air-medical transport membership plan in place in the event that you need to be air-medically transported home.
At no point are there more roadway hazards than the span of time between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Roadway traffic typically increases during the summer months, in addition to construction detours, road closures, the incidence of DUI and an increase in the number of teenager drivers.
Warmer weather also brings more motorcycle owners out of hibernation. While riding down the open road with the wind in your hair and the sun on your back has its appeal, motorcyclists are at an increased risk of being injured or killed in an accident. Whether you are on a bike or in a car, taking the time to be extra cautious and adhering to a few safety tips while on the road this summer will increase your chances of having a safe and enjoyable summer.
There are obvious advantages to owning a motorcycle – they use less gas, are more flexible in traffic, easier to park, and of course there is the cool factor. However, the biggest disadvantage when compared to a car – you are smaller and harder to see. When riding a motorcycle, always remember to:
Motorcycle Rider Protection Tips for Motorists:
Motorcycles have the same right to the road as a car. However, because there are more cars and trucks on the road, motorists are not necessarily trained to watch for motorcycles. The number one cause of motorcycle-related accidents was because the person driving the car failed to see the other person. Take extra care to:
By: John Gobbels
How do I know if I have the flu?
Your respiratory illness might be the flu if you have fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever. Flu viruses usually cause the most illness during the colder months of the year. However, influenza can also occur outside of the typical flu season. In addition, other viruses can also cause respiratory illness similar to the flu. So, it is impossible to tell for sure if you have the flu based on symptoms alone. If your doctor needs to know for sure whether you have the flu, there are laboratory tests that can be done.
What kinds of flu tests are there?
A number of flu tests are available to detect influenza viruses. The most common are called “rapid influenza diagnostic tests.” These tests can provide results in 30 minutes or less. Unfortunately, the ability of these tests to detect the flu can vary greatly. Therefore, you could still have the flu, even though your rapid test result is negative. In addition to rapid tests, there are several more accurate and sensitive flu tests available that must be performed in specialized laboratories, such as those found in hospitals or state public health laboratories. All of these tests require that a health care provider swipe the inside of your nose or the back of your throat with a swab and then send the swab for testing. These tests do not require a blood sample.
How well can rapid tests detect the flu?
During an influenza outbreak, a positive rapid flu test is likely to indicate influenza infection. However, rapid tests vary in their ability to detect flu viruses, depending on the type of rapid test used, and on the type of flu viruses circulating. Also, rapid tests appear to be better at detecting flu in children than adults. This variation in ability to detect viruses can result in some people who are infected with the flu having a negative rapid test result. (This situation is called a false negative test result.) Despite a negative rapid test result, your health care provider may diagnose you with flu based on your symptoms and their clinical judgment.
Will my health care provider test me for flu if I have flu-like symptoms?
Not necessarily. Most people with flu symptoms do not require testing because the test results usually do not change how you are treated.
Your health care provider may diagnose you with flu based on your symptoms and their clinical judgment or they may choose to use an influenza diagnostic test. During an outbreak of respiratory illness, testing for flu can help determine if flu viruses are the cause of the outbreak. Flu testing can also be helpful for some people with suspected flu who are pregnant or have a weakened immune system, and for whom a diagnosis of flu can help their doctor make decisions about their care.keep looking »