Heading for the Sun This March Break? Top 5 Tips for Travel Health

Family at the beach

By: Dr. Pamela Fergusson

Yay! March Break is upon us and spring is right around the corner. Although the days are getting longer and lighter, we still have a few weeks (months?) before temperatures really warm up. Many Canadian families are taking the opportunity for a sunny getaway and while lazy days on the beach and dips in the pool sound great, how can we protect our health on holiday?

1.       Drink bottled water: Many of us are making the move to refillable water bottles to reduce our carbon footprint. This is a great idea at home, but if you are travelling somewhere tropical, the local tap water might not be safe to drink. Skip the ice too. Although it is refreshing, it is potentially full contaminants – no thanks! Don’t avoid drinking though! Good hydration is an important part of staying healthy and avoiding infections.

2.       Swim safe: Check for local advisories to ensure that those beautiful beaches and lakes are safe for swimming. Beaches in urban settings may be more likely to be polluted by sewage drainage and stormwater runoff.  Enclosed bays and harbors get less water circulation, and are also more likely to be polluted. Avoid water that looks murky or smells bad. If you are unsure, keep your head above water and have a good shower after swimming.

3.       Sleep well: This can be a tough one, especially if you have travelled to a new time zone, and if kids and parents are sharing a room. Keep your schedule light for the first few days and allow time for decadent afternoon naps while you adjust.

4.       Use sun protection: Sunburn and sunstroke are no fun, and so easily preventable. Use sunscreen, wear hats, and take a siesta in the hottest hours of the afternoon.  You’ll come back home with a golden glow, and a big, healthy dose of vitamin D.

5.       Wash your hands: Just because you are on holiday, does not mean you can take a holiday from hygiene. This is a special message for kids! They may be in such a hurry to get back to the fun that they forget to wash. Remind them of the importance of a good wash with warm soapy water, and teach them how to use any unfamiliar taps.

This year, travellers are extra cautious because of the Zika virus. The Public Health Agency of Canada says that travellers to countries with Zika outbreaks should attempt to prevent mosquito bites with insect repellent, protective clothing, mosquito nets and screened doors. The symptoms and risks of a Zika infection are low, except for couples who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. If you are pregnant consider avoiding travel to Zika-endemic countries. If you are trying to conceive, wait at least 2 months after returning from an affected area.

Catching some warm, sunny rays in the winter months is good for the soul! Remember these 5 tips, and you should have happy, healthy memories to look back on. 

Parentwise Pamela

Dr. Pamela Fergusson is a Registered Dietitian and registered Public Health Nutritionist with a PhD in nutrition in Toronto.

Heading for the Sun This March Break? Top 5 Tips for Travel Health | CST Blog | C.S.T. Consultants Inc.


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