Family Health Healthy Living

Travel well: Your stay-healthy guide for every destination

If you’re an Augustan, one thing is certain: Come the first week in April, you’re ready to escape the tourists of Masters Week – just so you can become one yourself.

Yes, you have one glorious week ahead.

“But you don’t want to spoil your travels by getting sick,” said Dr. Jacqueline DuBose, a family medicine physician with Augusta University Family Medicine.

So as you pack, keep these stay-healthy tips in mind.

I’m traveling to: The beach

Pack this: Sunscreen

Top health tip: “When it comes to travel, sunscreen is one of the more common things I’m asked about,” said DuBose. Common errors? Not applying enough and not reapplying. According to DuBose, the average adult needs one ounce of sunscreen (for Augustans, that’s about the size of a golf ball). Apply 15 minutes before you head outdoors, and reapply every two hours. One tip for you and the kids: Keep sunscreen in the cooler so it will feel great going on when you’re out in the hot sun.

I’m traveling to: The mountains

Pack this: Survival kit and insect repellent

Top health tip: Bring along a backpack with a first aid kit, survival blanket, water, food and insect repellent – and wear comfortable shoes and proper clothing. “If you’re planning to be out hiking, you just need to be prepared,” said DuBose. “And of course, watch out for varmints.” These include ticks, which can carry Lyme disease. If you do find a tick on you, you can remove the whole tick using fine-tipped tweezers and upward movement with steady, even pressure. Worried about the bite or see a bulls-eye rash or any kind of rash? Contact your physician immediately. He or she may prescribe a short course of antibiotics to help prevent illness.

I’m traveling on: A plane

Pack this: Water and a pillow

Top health tip: If you’re flying to your destination, water is the most important item in your carry-on (purchase this after you go through the screening process). Because of the dry environment on the plane, it’s important that you drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol when flying. Going to a different time zone? Get as much rest as you can the day before you leave and on the plane, but once you arrive, change your watch immediately to the new time zone. “Jet lag hates sunlight, so try to stay awake until that evening at your new time zone,” said DuBose. “You’ll adjust more quickly.”

I’m traveling to: A ski resort

Pack this: Water and altitude medications

Top health tip: Augusta is only about 400 feet above sea level, so if you’re traveling to snow and high mountain air a mile above sea level, you’re going to feel it. Staying hydrated will help you feel more comfortable, and it should only last a couple of days. Very high altitudes and exertion (like skiing) can make you feel worse. You can talk to your physician about medications to take prophylactically to help prevent severe altitude sickness, which can cause headache and vomiting.

I’m traveling to: The city

Pack this: An emergency plan

Top health tip: Planning to navigate museums, the theater and restaurants in a crowded city destination? If you’re going with your family – especially if you have children and teenagers – have an emergency plan in place. It can be easy for young children to get separated or teens may want to explore on their own; talk ahead of time about the importance of being aware of each other and staying together. Children should know your cell phone number; in fact, it’s a good idea for everyone to have a cell phone.

I’m traveling on: A cruise

Pack this: Hand sanitizer

Top health tip: “Cruises are fun, but they can be petri dishes, so be careful,” said DuBose. The most common cruise-related illness is norovirus, which can spread through contact or contaminated food. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, but because it’s a viral illness, antibiotics won’t help. Supportive care, including plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration, is your best bet. Traveler’s diarrhea is another common illness but is primarily foodborne; to help prevent it, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed an app, “Can I Eat This?” so savvy travelers navigate safe food and drink wherever they travel.

Finally, “wherever you go, make sure you bring your insurance card and daily medications with you,” said DuBose. “And definitely pack at least an extra day’s worth of medication. You never know what might happen when you’re traveling, bad or good.”

And who knows? Maybe the Masters will include a Monday playoff, or you’ll decide to give yourself one extra day to play!

Here to help you stay healthy

To find a doctor or schedule an appointment at Augusta University Health, visit, or call 706-721-2273 (CARE).

About the author

Augusta University Health

Based in Augusta, Georgia, Augusta University Health is a world-class health care network, offering the most comprehensive primary, specialty and subspecialty care in the region. Augusta University Health provides skilled, compassionate care to its patients, conducts leading-edge clinical research and fosters the medical education and training of tomorrow’s health care practitioners. Augusta University Health is a not-for-profit corporation that manages the clinical operations associated with Augusta University.