When we think of an Outer Banks vacation, we envision relaxing on a sandy beach, soaking up the warm sun, having fun and spending quality time together with friends and family. However, as with any trip away from home, unplanned health problems can sometimes arise. The stress and excitement of travel can make you sick, but if you follow a few simple tips, you're more likely to stay healthy throughout your trip which means your trip will be the enjoyable vacation it was meant to be. Here are some health and safety tips to keep in mind when planning your Outer Banks vacation:
Immune Support & Prevention
Germs spread easily when people are in close contact. Plus, people often get run down and stressed out before they go away for vacation by trying to get work done and prepare for the trip. "Changing your routine ramps up levels of stress hormones which can wreak havoc on your immune system," says Steven Lamm, MD, a clinical assistant professor at New York University.
- Boost your immune system. Having a sound immune system already will help fight any bugs but adding an extra immune boost won't hurt. Consider taking vitamin supplements such as vitamin C, ginger root, and green tea. In fact, it's not a bad idea to begin taking these supplements the week before your vacation. Getting sick is always a drag, but when you’re on vacation, it’s the worst.
- Get a bottle of hand sanitizer and use it. When on vacation, you may encounter situations where you need to wash your hands but there is no proper hand washing equipment available. This is where hand sanitizers come in handy. Your hand sanitizer should be at least 60% alcohol if you hope to disinfect in between washing and any time you come into contact with anything someone else might have touched. If not, they may not work properly and you could put yourself at even higher risk of getting sick.
- Get disinfectant wipes and wipe down places where germs are frequent. Germs may frequent many places include doorknobs, remote controls, light switches, gas pump handles, etc.
Motion sickness can occur whether going by car, train, plane, or boat. Its effects include nausea which could lead to vomiting. This is usually preceded by yawning, salivation, cold sweating and dizziness. People prone to motion sickness should have a light non-fatty meal before the journey and avoid alcohol. Reading and writing should also be avoided during travel. There are tablets available to help combat motion sickness. If you are traveling by car, it is advisable to take a rest from driving every two hours. A short walk will refresh you and help to maintain your concentration.
Bright, sunny days seem like the perfect recipe for a great Outer Banks vacation. However, if you aren't careful, the summer sun can be too much of a good thing. During the summer months, the sun's rays are especially intense. The reflection of the sun off of the ocean and sand can increase your chance for sunburn. The tanning effect of the sun is largely caused by ultraviolet rays which reach the skin. Excessive exposure to these rays leads to burning with redness and swelling. Check out our Beach Safety page for more information.
Bites And Stings
If you are bitten by mosquitoes, sand flies, or other insects while on vacation, you should apply an antihistamine cream or, if none is available, prompt application of ice and a cooling lotion, such as calamine, will ease the pain considerably. It is possible to scratch or pull out bee stings left behind in the skin. This reduces the redness and swelling that results from the sting’s poison. Again, ice and cooling lotions are the recommended treatments.
Other more dangerous injuries can be caused by a number of creatures. If you are stung by a jellyfish, try to remove the tentacles and stingers and then soak the area in hot water. Topical cortisone creams or oral antihistamines may relieve swelling and itching. If you experience a severe allergic reaction, seek medical attention immediately.
A few too many cocktails combined with lots of sun (dehydration) can bring on that undesirable hangover. To avoid this, drink lots of water with your cocktails and have a glass of water and a banana before bed. Take a supplement with guava leaf extract – the compounds in guava help your body process alcohol more efficiently. Go easy on the Tylenol... while it helps the headache, high amounts are hard on your liver and so is the alcohol. If you feel queasy the next day, avoid alcohol and have some ginger and lemon tea.
Overeating and Indulging
Overeating can lead to bloating, gas, heartburn and weight gain. This is all too easy to do on vacation, especially when you have access to incredible restaurants and fresh, local seafood. Avoid this unpleasant feeling by eating smaller meals (try to avoid the buffets), opt for grilled or broiled seafood instead of fried, choose your sides wisely, taking digestive enzymes before you eat and having a cup of green tea afterward to aid digestion and support your metabolism.
Other Helpful Hints
- Pack a first aid kit. It's a good idea to bring a "travel" first aid kit with you on vacation containing the following items: aspirin, travel-sickness pills, insect repellent, sunscreen, and creams or sprays to relieve the effects of stings and bites.
- Trust your instincts and use common sense. We come into contact with germs every day and that’s just part of life. Living in a bubble will rob you of great experiences so you have to take risks sometimes - just do a little prep work before hand to feel more confident.
- Consider buying vacation insurance. Trip insurance covers a variety of issues that could impact your vacation and save you a lot of heart ache and money, should unforeseen circumstances occur. Check out our Policies and Procedures for more information on vacation insurance.
With a little advance preparation and common sense, you can ease any worries that your trip will be spoiled by unexpected health problems. Here's to a happy and healthy vacation!