5 Silly Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Health While Traveling3 min read
It’s probably not news to you: As Americans, we work hard. Sometimes too hard, especially if you look at how we stack up against other industrialized nations when it comes to paid vacation time. If you’re lucky, you get 10 days a year, but some people don’t get any. And who wants to spend the little time we do have being sick or recovering from illness?
It happens even to the most seasoned traveler. You make the wrong decision during your trip and wind up paying the price with your health—either during your time away or shortly after you return home. Learn from my missteps and don’t make these five silly mistakes that can sabotage your health on vacation.
Mistake #1: Drinking the Water
Where It Happened: Shanghai, China
The Situation: I was on a business trip in Shanghai and my colleague and I were pretty strict about not drinking tap water since it can create intestinal issues. He forgot one thing: He used tap water when brushing his teeth.
Price Paid: A stomach bug that resulted in missing an important meeting.
Do This Instead: When in doubt, go bottled. Most hotels abroad will provide bottled water; just make sure they’re sealed. And avoid getting water from the tap or the shower in your mouth when bathing.
Mistake #2: Touching Anything in the Seat-Back Pocket
Where It Happened: Over the Atlantic Ocean
The Situation: I diligently followed along with the flight attendant by reading the safety card during her pre-flight overview. I then flipped through the magazine in the same seat-back pocket for a list of snacks.
Price Paid: A wicked head cold and sinus infection.
Do This Instead: Avoid touching things on the plane. The seat-back pocket is chock-full of germs. I now always wipe down my seat with a disinfectant wipe and also carry hand sanitizer.
Mistake #3: Skipping Your Zzzz’s
Where It Happened: Frankfurt, Germany
The Situation: My flight was delayed so we took off late, and then I went straight in to a day of fun at Oktoberfest without resting.
Price Paid: Severe jet lag that stuck around for a few days.
Mistake #4: Not Peeling Your Fruit
Where It Happened: Zihuatanejo, Mexico (No, Andy and Red never showed up.)
The Situation: My family rented a little beach house and hired a cook to make dinner at night—because who wants to cook in the sweltering heat while on vacation? The fruit and vegetables were fresh and delicious, but some were unpeeled and possibly washed in tap water.
Price Paid: Montezuma’s Revenge—that’s right, diarrhea
Do This Instead: Peel any fruits and vegetables that you don’t wash yourself. When you do clean them, use an antibacterial vegetable wash that is available in many grocery stores abroad.
Mistake #5: Altering Your Caffeine Intake
Where It Happened: Seoul, South Korea
The Situation: My wife and I traveled to Seoul to adopt our son. In all the hustle and bustle of the trip, my usual two cups of coffee a day dropped to zero.
Price Paid: A splitting headache for a week.
Do This Instead: Vacation is not necessarily the time to make radical changes to your diet unless you’re specifically trying to clean out some bad habits. Keep your normal routine as much as possible.