Top 6 Travel Health Tips for the Family this March Break

Family on tropical beach March Break getaway health

Strategies to help the family stay healthy while on a tropical March Break adventure.

Are you and the kids counting down to March Break? Perhaps your family is in the middle of planning your getaway and excitement is building.

Although the days are getting longer and lighter, we still have awhile before temperatures really warm up. Many Canadian families are taking the opportunity for a sun-filled trip. Lazy days on the beach and dips in the pool sound great, but what should we be thinking about now, in order to help us stay healthy while on holiday?

Keeping the family healthy on your March Break getaway

  1. Update your vaccinations: Make an appointment 4-6 weeks before departure to make sure you and your family are up to date on all your vaccinations. Even if you have had all your shots in the past, you may need boosters. Depending on where you are travelling, you may also want to get vaccines for diseases we don’t often get in Canada; like Hepatitis A.
  1. Drink bottled water: If you are travelling somewhere tropical, the local tap water might not be safe to drink. Skip the ice too. Although it is refreshing, it could be full of contaminants – no thanks! Don’t avoid drinking water, though! Just stick to bottled water. Good hydration is an important part of staying healthy and avoiding infections.
  1. Swim safe: Check for local advisories to ensure that those beautiful beaches and lakes are safe for swimming. Beaches in urban settings may be more likely to be polluted by sewage drainage and stormwater runoff. Enclosed bays and harbors get less water circulation, and are also more likely to be polluted. Avoid water that looks murky or smells bad. If you are unsure, keep your head above water and have a good shower after swimming.
  1. Sleep well: This can be a tough one, especially if you have travelled to a new time zone, and if kids and parents are sharing a room. Keep your schedule light for the first few days and allow time for decadent afternoon naps while you adjust.

Good hydration is an important part of staying healthy and avoiding infections.

  1. Use sun protection: Sunburn and sunstroke are no fun, and so easily preventable. Use sunscreen, wear hats, and take a siesta in the hottest hours of the afternoon. You’ll come back home with a golden glow, and a big, healthy dose of vitamin D.
  1. Wash your hands: Just because you are on holiday, does not mean you can take a holiday from hygiene. This is a special message for kids! They may be in such a hurry to get back to the fun that they forget to wash. Remind them of the importance of a good wash with warm soapy water, and teach them how to use any unfamiliar taps.

These days, travellers are extra cautious because of the Zika virus. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says that travellers to countries with Zika outbreaks should attempt to prevent mosquito bites with insect repellent, protective clothing, mosquito nets and screened doors. Be sure to check the Government of Canada website for travel health notices and information related to pregnancy and Zika.

Catching some warm, sunny rays in the winter months is good for the soul! Remember these 6 tips, and you should have happy, healthy memories to look back on.

Dr. Pamela Fergusson, RD

Pamela Fergusson is a Registered Dietician with a PhD in nutrition with a private practice in Toronto. She brings a love of nutrition, wellness and fitness to her blogging. She loves to cook and bake with her four children, teach them about food and nutrition through shopping for and preparing colourful, healthy family meals together. Pamela is also a runner and speed walker and has completed six half and full marathons.

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