5 Ways To Avoid Getting Sick on Vacation

photographed by Caroline Tompkins; modeled by Imani Palmer; produced by Julie Borowsky; produced by Lorenna Gomez-Sanchez.
There's nothing quite like the feeling you get right before going on a vacation. You set your out-of-office email, grab your carry-on bag, and jump on a plane... only to get sick once you get to your destination.
As sucky as it is, traveling really can leave you more vulnerable to illness.
Albert Ahn, MD, clinical instructor of Internal Medicine at NYU Langone Health, says that traveling and being in crowded spaces like planes, airports, buses, or trains, can expose you to a lot of different germs. Not to mention, getting from one place to the other often puts you under a lot of stress, and that's not great for your health, either.
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"Travel in general puts stress on the body, and anything that puts stress on the body weakens the immune system, and makes you more susceptible to illness," Dr. Ahn says.
Still, there are ways to avoid getting sick so that you can really enjoy your hard-earned vacation days. Read on for some tips on not letting a couple of germs ruin your time off.
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Start preparing before you go.

Start preparing before you go.

Dr. Ahn says he recommends a lot of water and rest before you even leave. And rest includes not overexerting yourself at work if you can avoid it.

"A lot of us try to tie up loose ends at work before we leave and run ourselves ragged the last few days before," he says. "If you wear yourself out before you go on vacation, it puts you at a disadvantage because you’re probably already tired and under-rested, and you’re at increased risk for getting sick."

Plus, he says, if you come down with a cold the first day or so of vacation, it's likely something that already started before you left, so definitely make sure you're taking care of yourself beforehand.
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Pack smart.

Pack smart.

You don't want to be a pack rat, but if you can spare some space, it's definitely smart to bring some medicine that you might need with you. Dr. Ahn says it's a good idea to bring some over the counter medicine along with any prescribed medication you already take on a daily basis.

Some staples? Medications like Advil and Tylenol, immodium, Pepto Bismol, and the like.
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Square away any vaccinations you might need.

Square away any vaccinations you might need.

This is especially necessary if you're traveling to another country where you might need to make sure that your shots are all up-to-date. Dr. Ahn recommends going to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website, where you can look into whether or not you need specific vaccinations to go to certain countries. And definitely do so early — at least a few weeks before you travel — just in case you need more than one shot, and they can't be administered at the same time.
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When in doubt, go for bottled water.

When in doubt, go for bottled water.

Dr. Ahn says that depending on where you travel, you might want to avoid tap water, just in case it doesn't sit right in your stomach. That also includes avoiding foods that were washed in said tap water when you can, though that's something you likely have less control over. Some likely culprits that you can try to avoid? Salad and unpeeled fruits.
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Make use of on-site doctors.

Make use of on-site doctors.

If you do get sick, it's not the end of the world. Hopefully, if you've brought the medicine you need, you can take care of it yourself or run to the local pharmacy if necessary, but Dr. Ahn says to also remember that hotels often have doctors on-site who might be able to help you get better — and salvage the rest of your vacation.
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