Elvie Ancheta

Many of us plan our travels in the summer months. Our travels takes us to so many different places in our bucket list.

Whether you are traveling local or abroad, it takes some planning, financial considerations and a great deal of preparation. We plan it to be fun!

Seeing and experiencing places you have never been teaches us many things. It makes us a little bit more. At times, it helps us realize the good that that we have taken for granted. In joyful anticipation, we wish for our travels to be enjoyable and memorable, free from adverse events.

Staying healthy and free from injurious experience is essential. Some of these undesirable experiences happen despite your preparations but some are definitely avoidable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the following guide for healthy travel:

• Be prepared. See your health care provider at least a month before your trip for any vaccination and medicines that you may need, depending on your destination and activities planned. Discuss any existing medical issues that may affect your trip. If you are traveling with children and autoimmune compromised individuals, routine and travel vaccinations are more so important.

• Pack smart. Save room in your suitcase for a travel health kit that may include: first-aid kit, over-the-counter and prescription medications, sunscreen, insect repellant, and other health items you may need.

• Avoid insect bites. Use insect repellants after you apply sunscreen. Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts when you can and stay in air-conditioned rooms, or use a bed net if sleeping outside.

• Make smart food choices. Know what to eat. Contaminated food and water can cause traveler’s diarrhea and other diseases that can hijack your travel plans. Eat food that is cooked and served hot. Choose pasteurized dairy product and hard-boiled egg versus over-easy. Avoid raw food altogether. Foods from factory-sealed packages are generally safe as long as you open and handle them properly with clean hands. Wash fruits and vegetables in safe water and peel them yourself. Be careful of condiments made with fresh ingredients, such as salsa. Fresh salads can also be risky. Street food can even be riskier.

• Make smart drink choices. Water sodas, or sports drinks that are bottled and sealed are safe choices. Carbonated drinks are safest since the bubbles indicate that the bottle was factory-sealed. Some dishonest vendors may sell tap water in bottles that are “sealed” with a drop of glue to mimic the factory seal. Hot coffee or tea should be safe if it is served steaming hot. Of course you can allow it to cool a little before sipping, but be wary of your drink served only warm or at room temperature. Watch out for milk in open containers that may have been sitting at room temperature. Drinks on the rocks can be risky also if the ice is made from contaminated tap water. Tap water can be disinfected by boiling, filtering, or chemically treating if, for example with chlorine. Fountain sodas are best avoided since the carbonating water that is being mixed with the flavored syrup most likely comes from the tap. Freshly squeezed juices handled by unknown hands may be risky in some countries. If you can, squeeze the juice yourself. The same goes for ice pops and other treats that are made from freshly squeezed juice.

• Watch your health after your trip. If you are not feeling well, see your health care provider and mention that you have recently traveled. If you have visited a malaria-risk area, it is very important that you continue taking your antimalarial drug as prescribed. If you become ill with a fever or flu-like illness either while traveling in a malaria-risk area or after you return home (up to a year), you should seek immediate medical attention and be sure to tell your health care provider your travel history.

Now you are ready to travel! Wish you safe travels and joyful experiences. Prepare to be more!

A registered nurse, Dr. Elvie C. Ancheta is administrator of the California Department of Veterans Affairs’ William J. “Pete” Knight Veterans Home in Lancaster.

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