With only a few weeks before school resumes, families are packing their bags, hitting the road and catching flights for fun-filled getaways while they still can. Many of us will make a packing checklist, but family medicine physician Kelly Farris, MD, at Methodist Family Health Center – Murphy, also suggests making a safety checklist before you head out on your vacation. Here are 10 travel tips for you, and your family:
- Get vaccinated before you leave: visit your primary care physician and make sure everyone’s vaccines are up to date. If you’re travelling internationally, meet with your doctor at least a month before you depart. Dr. Farris says getting your flu shot before going on vacation anywhere is especially important.
- Use your judgment to decide whether or not travel insurance is a necessity. It may make more sense to get it if you’re going somewhere abroad versus a quick trip to visit family and friends. Before you buy it, check if you’re already covered through your personal insurance provider.
- Have a First Aid Kit handy: fill it up with some Band-Aids, ibuprofen and some antibiotics. Of course, make sure to pack all of your prescribed medicine. Dr. Farris recommends having your doctors’ contact information stored in your cell phone.
- Bring protective gear: pack some sunscreen and hats to make sure sunburn doesn’t ruin your trip! Dr. Farris says the strength of your sunscreen shouldn’t be less than SPF 30.
- Sleep is still important: most of us tend to sleep more while we’re on vacation. However, it’s important to emphasize the importance of getting a good night’s rest—especially if you’re hitting the road. Don’t drive tired!
- Avoid sitting in the same spot for too long: stretch your legs. If you’re sitting in a plane or a car, try to get up and walk every hour. While you’re sitting, Dr. Farris suggests moving your feet around every 20 minutes. “Raise and lower your toes, keeping your heels on the floor. Then raise and lower your heels, keeping your toes on the floor,” he adds. If you have a history of blood clots, talk to your doctor before you leave on your trip.
- Try to steer clear of motion sickness: Dr. Farris says you can talk to your physician about using an over-the-counter medication to prevent motion sickness. However, he says most of the prescribed brands have the side effect of drowsiness. If you opt not to use a pill, look in the direction you’re traveling to avoid motion sickness. For example, sit down and face forward while riding in the car. Also, try to avoid reading or looking too closely at nearby objects while moving.
- Stick together: make sure to travel in a group. Dr. Farris put his seven kids in the same colored shirt to make sure nobody got lost. If that’s a little too much for you, at least make sure everyone exchanges contact information, and decide on a central meeting point, in case someone gets lost.
- Recovery day: end your vacation on a Saturday, so you have a day at home before heading back to work. If your schedule doesn’t allow for a recovery day, plan ahead and make sure your first day back is a light day. Make some phone calls, go through emails and do some paperwork.
- Plan a vacation: if you haven’t gone on vacation in a while, make sure to do so soon. “Even if you stay at home, it’s vital,” Dr. Farris said.
Methodist Health System has more than two dozen family health centers across Dallas-Fort Worth. If you’re in need of a pre-trip check-up, back to school physical, flu shot or more, click the button below.