With the world opening up more and more post-pandemic, it’s a happy news that international travel is once again available for work or play. Learning how to stay healthy during your upcoming journeys has become more important than ever, not only to make the most of your long-awaited trip but also as we all should, to adapt to the new norm of being more careful after a global health crisis.
Travelling can impose challenges on our health, especially the Long-haul ones. Our immune system takes a knock when our sleep/wake cycles are disrupted (even without jet lag). Blood circulation and lymph flow become sluggish from sitting for long periods, and even feeling stressed before/during a trip can reduce our immune activity, leaving us more prone to getting sick.
Take a look at our handy checklist of things to help you to organize your thoughts, give you peace of mind and keep your immunity as strong as possible. The more informed you are, the better – less is never more when it comes to preparing for medical and health matters.
Covid is still the main concern for travel, so you might want to check the disease incidence where you are and at your destination, in case this affects your plans. And don’t forget to check the requirements at all locations – we have so many things to organise now, like tests and certificates.
(i) Speak with your GP prior to travel. Your doctor can help you with:
(ii) Pack a medicine kit and your medical information. Put this in your cabin baggage because checked baggage can be delayed/lost. This can include:
(iii) Pack a basic care kit for the plane, i.e. things that keep you comfortable, warm, hydrated and relaxed. A good selection would be:
Travelling when sick (even when the illness is minor) can spread disease, and it can make your experience very unpleasant. If you have any symptoms of illness, please contact your airline about rescheduling your flight.
The newer Covid-19 variants tend to be more transmissible than the earlier types, so we can still catch and spread this illness even if we are fully vaccinated, but the jab does protect people from the worst effects.
Stay mindful of what you already know about how to reduce your risk of catching Covid-19 (and this applies to many other infectious diseases):
The situations with a higher risk for contracting Covid-19 include close contact, crowds, and enclosed spaces (poor ventilation) for prolonged periods – just like planes, trains and other modes of transport. Infections that spread on planes happen most often when people are within 2 rows or 2 metres of a Covid-19 infected person (remember this when lining up). People can be infectious before they realise they are ill, that’s why measures to minimise the spread are so important.
While travelling, some airlines/airports/countries now specify which types of masks are necessary (if any), so do check and ensure you have enough masks of the correct type. Of course, you can still wear masks in places that no longer require them. The nice thing masks also help to moisten the air in and around your nose, so it is less drying on a flight.
Your overall risk of getting monkeypox is low, so don’t panic! Monkeypox is a viral disease originating in animals. It spreads through skin/membrane contact with the body fluids of infected people/animals, or via contaminated objects. The good news is it is not airborne, so it is much harder to catch than the coronavirus. Common symptoms include fever and painful blisters or a rash.
Some of the measures we already follow to reduce Covid will also reduce your risk of contracting monkeypox. In other words, basic hygiene, such as frequent hand-washing, covering wounds, not sharing utensils/glasses, and practising safe sex.
Last but not least, we must emphasize that even if you are really busy with all the activities and appointments planned during the trip, be sure to take care of yourself before, during, and after. Staying healthy with a balanced lifestyle and diet means your immune system will be at its best, and prevention is better than cure. This means getting enough rest at the right times, exercise, food, water, sunlight, and supplements if needed.
Source and References
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Dr Wenus Ho is a family physician and a designated workplace doctor with more than a decade of clinical experience. She is also currently a postgraduate tutor for the Graduate Diploma of Family Medicine (GDFM) Training Program in the Yong Yoo Lin School of Medicine, Singapore....
After graduating from Guys’, King’s and St Thomas’ School of Medicine in the United Kingdom, Dr Juliana went on to complete her Graduate Diploma in Family medicine at the National University of Singapore. She also has completed her diploma in Occupational Medicine. Dr Juliana applies her...
Dr Yong graduated from University College London, United Kingdom, with a Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery with distinction in medical sciences. She has more than 10 years of experience as a general practitioner, and was accredited as family physician by the Family Physician Accreditation...
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