5 health tips to keep in mind while you travel

5 health tips to keep in mind while you travel

30 January 2012

You’ve made it off the plane and into your hotel room, and now the real adventure begins. Before your family heads down to the buffet table or jumps into the ocean, consider the following tips and extra precautions to safeguard your and your children’s health:

  1. Be prepared to acclimatize yourself: If you’re going overseas, make sure to give your kids enough time to adjust to time differences by keeping your schedule light and flexible on your first two days of holiday, and plan a bit more time for naps to relieve jet lag. If altitude sickness or high heat might factor into your holiday, make sure your family stays hydrated.
  2. Take precautions with food and water: Consumption of contaminated food or water can leave you and your family prone to infection and illness. To prevent illness when travelling, it is therefore important to remember to:
  • Wash your hands with soap and running water frequently. If soap and running water are not readily available, alcohol-based hand gel can be used as a substitute;
  • Avoid uncooked foods – especially shellfish – when travelling, as well as ice, unless it’s been made with purified water;
  • Drink only purified water or commercially bottled water, as well as other bottled drinks such as carbonated sodas or juices;
  • Avoid food from street vendors as well as food that is undercooked;
  1. Bring a good sunscreen, hats and sunglasses to the beach: Children of all ages tend to spend more time outdoors during the peak UV hours of 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pools are highly reflective, bouncing back up to 85% of UVB light. When the ultraviolet (UV) index is high, the time it takes to burn is reduced to 13 to 20 minutes. Though clouds may darken the sky, they reduce UV by only 20 to 40%. Bring more than enough sunscreen for the entire family and ensure your kids apply it as directed, before sun exposure. Wearing hats and sunglasses, as well as taking breaks from sun exposure are also advised to prevent sun burns, heat stroke and illness.
  2. Protect your family against insect- and tick-borne diseases: Insects can transmit a variety of serious infections through bites. Avoid getting bitten and reduce your exposure to insects by staying in well-screened rooms and areas and using insect repellent on exposed skin.
  3. Prevent injuries in recreational waters: Beaches, freshwater lakes, swimming pools and spas can pose health and safety risks. Be sure to watch for signs of dangerous waters and obey beach rules and keep your children at arm’s length when participating in all water activities. Use appropriately sized life jackets and if scuba diving, never go alone or without training.

Practice these health and safety tips during your trip and you’ll be more likely to enjoy the beach, the sights and your family’s company above all else!


Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada. Well on Your Way – A Canadian’s Guide to Healthy Travel Abroad.

Give health. Donate now

This page needs an update? Report it here!