Ahhh, vacation. Whether it’s a week at the beach, a whirlwind tour of Europe, or time spent at home relaxing, vacationing is good for the mind and the body. There’s even some scientific backing for the notion that regular vacations are good for your health. At least two large studies suggest that people who get away every so often live longer and are less likely to develop heart disease than those who don’t.
But that’s not to say that vacations can’t be stressful, or even the cause of medical problems on occasion. In this guide, you’ll find the information you’ll need to make sure your vacation is a healthful one, from the plane ride there to your final meal of the trip.
Prepared by the editors of Harvard Health Publications in consultation Howard Lewine, M.D., Chief Medical Editor, Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School. 35 pages. (2008)
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Our 10-Minute Consult series of publications delivers compact, practical information on important health concerns. These publications are smaller in scope than our Special Health Reports, but they are written in the same clear, easy-to-understand language, and they provide the authoritative health advice you expect from Harvard Health Publications.
Traveler’s health kit
Use this list as a starting point for keeping track of the health-related items you should remember to pack. Of course, feel free to write in items specific to your situation. And always talk to a doctor or pharmacist before taking any medication, even an over-the-counter drug.
Personal prescription medications. Make sure to take at least a week’s supply in your carry-on (in case luggage is lost); you can pack the rest.
- antidiarrheal medication (e.g., bismuth subsalicylate, loperamide) and other medications for gastrointestinal problems, such as a mild laxative and an antacid
- antihistamine and 1% hydrocortisone cream for mild allergic reactions; if you or a traveling companion has a history of severe allergic reaction, bring an epinephrine auto-injector (e.g., EpiPen)
- medications for cold symptoms, including a decongestant and throat lozenges
- motion sickness medication
- acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, or other medication for pain relief or fever reduction
- antifungal and antibacterial ointments or creams
- lubricating eye drops (e.g., Natural Tears)
- basic first-aid items (adhesive bandages, gauze, elastic bandage, antiseptic, tweezers, scissors, cotton-tipped applicators) and a first-aid book or quick-reference instructions.
Consider asking your doctor about traveling with one or more of these prescription medications:
- antimalarial medications, if recommended for the country you’re visiting
- antibiotic for self-treatment of moderate to severe diarrhea.