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6 COVID-era travel tips from Tryon’s “Travel Doc”

Dr. Hughes recently visited Malta, an archipelago in the central Mediterranean between Sicily and the North African coast.

Most travel restrictions have been lifted and for many destinations, negative tests are rarely required. However, it’s still critical to consider how we can keep ourselves safe and healthy while traveling. 

Dr. Carl Hughes, jetsetter and internal medicine specialist at Tryon Medical Partners, has taken advantage of his increased immunity from Covid vaccines by taking a few trips to the stunning destinations of Belize, Malta and Italy. For other fully vaccinated folks who are ready to take their overdue vacation, Dr. Hughes has a few healthy travel tips. 

  1. Make sure you are fully vaccinated and boosted

First, check your destination for any required vaccines for travelers. Visit the State Department website and the national health website for your destinationto determine the latest guidance. For less formal guidance, check out TripAdvisor forums to get a sense of what travelers have experienced in that destination. 

Second, to give yourself as much immunity as possible, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website to ensure you’ve received all vaccines and boosters you are eligible for before your trip. Given the possibility of vaccine side effects, plan ahead to allow at least a week after receiving a vaccine or booster shot before traveling. 

  1. Consider masking up while you travel

In most airports and destinations, mask requirements have been lifted. But airports are busy due to a travel surge. “If you’re uncomfortable, consider wearing one. Everything is overcrowded – the airports are crazy and lines are long so think about the crowds you’ll be dealing with,” Dr. Hughes says.

  1. BYOS (Bring your own snack)

Due to the surge in travel and staffing shortages, many airport concession stands are closed down and those open have incredibly long lines. Bringing your own snacks can help you eat healthier and keep you out of the crowds waiting in line, decreasing your risk of picking up a bug or COVID-19. 

  1. Stay hydrated

To stay healthy while you travel, few things are as important as staying hydrated. Maintaining appropriate water intake will keep you feeling healthy and rested, diminish the likelihood of you getting sick, and even help beat jet lag

Make sure you pack a reusable water bottle in your carry-on to keep hydration easy and convenient. 

Dr. Hughes adds,Avoiding alcohol will aid in keeping you hydrated, especially with long flights.” 

  1. Keep necessary items in your carry-on

Make sure you keep any medications and health supplies in your carry-on and out of your checked bags. If your luggage ends up left behind, or worst case, lost, you don’t want to be without your daily medication while away. TSA allows you to take any necessary medications with you on your flight. 

In addition to medications, pack a COVID-19 tool kit: an antigen test, hand sanitizer, hand wipes and a few disposable masks so you’re prepared for any situation. 

  1. Pack your patience and plan ahead

Dr. Hughes “finds his zen” next to a waterfall in Oregon.

Due to the high level of domestic and international travel and frequently changing restrictions, going away is more stressful than it has been in the past. Stress can negatively impact your immune system and make you more susceptible to illness and disease, including COVID-19. To keep your risk low and set yourself up for success, plan ahead and plan early. 

Before you even arrive at your destination, familiarize yourself with local pharmacies and healthcare facilities in case you end up feeling sick and need treatment. 

Be aware of backup plans if flights are canceled or plans change – pay attention to flight cancellation policies and what your credit card company may cover if a flight is canceled. 

“Travel insurance is an especially good idea, especially if you’re older and have medical issues, in case you end up needing medical attention while traveling,” remarks Dr. Hughes. “Travel insurance may also cover the trip if you end up getting COVID-19 before or during your scheduled vacation.” 

If you have any questions about staying healthy while you take your well-deserved vacation, you can always turn to the well-traveled clinicians at Tryon Medical Partners to get those questions answered.