12 Things Doctors Always Do When They Travel To Avoid Getting Sick

by | Oct 1, 2023 | Travel

martin-dm via Getty ImagesDoctors share how they stay healthy when they’re traveling.When travelers return home from a vacation, they typically bring cool souvenirs, cherished memories and a broadened perspective on the world. But sometimes they also come home with a terrible cold, digestive problems or other health issues.It’s common to get sick when you travel, whether you come down with symptoms during the trip or start feeling bad after the return. But this outcome doesn’t have to be inevitable.Advertisement

“You can assume that travel will increase the risk of getting sick, and none of us wants to get sick while traveling, said Dr. Henry M. Wu, an associate professor at Emory University School of Medicine and director of the Emory TravelWell Center. “It makes sense to take extra precautions we don’t do on a daily basis.”Below, Wu and other doctors share the things they always do when they travel to avoid getting sick. Masking In The Airport And On The Plane“Although COVID is no longer as large of an issue as it was, given that I am in close quarters with the same circulating air on an airplane, I still wear a mask on all flights and in the airport,” said Dr. Barbara Bawer, a family medicine physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “Depending on where you are going, wearing a mask in crowded places is also important.”She suggested packing at least a couple of masks in case one gets soiled or ruined. High-quality masks like N95s are your best bet for reducing germ transmission in crowded indoor situations. “I still lament the time I sat on an overnight train in France across from a couple that coughed and sneezed the entire trip — only to get a horrible cold a day later and miss the 48-hour French countryside wedding extravaganza I had traveled so far to attend,” said Dr. Sarah Battistich, an emergency medicine specialist with NYU Langone Health’s Virtual Urgent Care. “Now I routinely wear masks in transit, whether or not there are identifiably ill persons around me.”Advertisement

Face coverings can also offer protection in multiple ways.“The mask will keep you from touching your nose and mouth with your hands,” said Dr. Heather Viola, a primary care physician at Mount Sinai Doctors-Ansonia.Frequently Washing And Sanitizing Hands“First and foremost, I constantly wash my hands, always carrying with me hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to prevent the spread of germs,” Viola said. “Many airlines are giving out alcohol-based disinfectant wipes when you board. I use these to clean my seat, headrest, armrests, tray table, and entertainment screen — basically, anything you may touch while sitting in your seat.”Packing your own alcohol-based disinfecting wipes can also be useful.“I am a big proponent obviously of hand washing,” Battistich said. “But also trying to limit touching of shared surfaces and therefore limit the risk of coming into contact with bacteria and viruses. I make a game out of it with my daughter to not touch any surface in public bathrooms, including doors and toilet seats.”Pyrosky via Getty ImagesMasking and hand washing are still crucial for preventing infections …

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