When we think about medical emergencies while traveling, many people instantly conjure up images of airlifts out of disaster areas. But those occurrences are thankfully rare. More commonly, people suffer bumps, bruises and maybe breaks, and the “emergency” stems from lack of familiarity with the health system in a foreign land.
A new study shows that, once again, travelers tend to suffer the same ailments – for at least the second straight year, the most common insurance claims made by travelers are for back pain, respiratory issues and gastrointestinal problems.
In an effort to help you get through your trip without encountering some of these naggings travel aches and pains, here are some tips:
Avoiding Back Pain
- Lift those suitcases properly. Do not bend from the waist. Bend your knees and try to keep your weight in your heels. The legs are the most powerful part of your body (you know this, right?); let’s use those quadriceps.
- Stretch. When traveling, you’re often scrunched up into smaller-than-usual spaces, like airplane seats. Each morning, it’s a good idea to do at least some gentle stretching, especially if you’re going to be walking a lot, or gathering up your things to head to the next destination.
- Be careful making the bed. Yes, even mundane things like making the bed can cause you to throw out your back, if you stretch and twist the wrong way. So move your feet, and don’t stretch too far. Or better yet, let the maid service take care of it.
Avoiding Respiratory Issues
Putting a halt on respiratory infections and other issues can be difficult. After all, we’re talking generally about airborne issues that you don’t see coming, and there isn’t a whole lot you can do to stop a virus.
- Wash your hands. The best way to stave off infections is by frequently washing your hands. Germs are most frequently passed along by handshakes and touching public objects.
- Limit travel during flu season. There are obviously more sick people traveling during flu season – more on the plane, more in the hotel, more in that business meeting. If you can avoid or limit travel in the fall and winter, it could keep you breathing easier.
- Steer clear of pollution. Air pollution is a major cause of respiratory infection. If you can help it, stay away from areas where clean air standards aren’t up to snuff.
Avoiding Gastrointestinal Problems
- Wash your hands. Again. It’s never a bad idea to wash your hands frequently. Or use a hand sanitizer. If your hands are getting dry, get some moisturizer.
- For food allergies, there is no vacation. You’re in Paris and you want that dish with the cream sauce, but you’re lactose intolerant? Say non, monsieur. Think your gluten issue will go away because you’re in Florence? Wrong again. We know you want to cut loose because you’re away from home, but not listening to your body will come back to haunt you.
Photo by Yiie.