Taking care of your personal health is pertinent at all times to avoid getting sick – but when it comes to travel, especially with your family, it’s important to take every precaution.
By Kerrie Lee Brown
Over the next three weeks, millions of people will travel to visit loved ones for the holidays. And over the next three months leading up to March Break, even more Canadian families will travel to warmer destinations to escape the colder weather.
Although studies suggest that travel on the whole has declined over the last five years due to economic hardships – there has been a steady increase in Canadian travel to destinations abroad since September.
According to a 2012 Statistics Canada report, travel from Canada to overseas countries continues its upward trend, rising 2.0% to 809,000 trips. In fact, Canadian residents took 5.6 million trips to the United States and overseas countries combined, up 2.9% from August.
The same report stated that overnight travel accounted for almost half of this total equaling the highest figure since record keeping began in 1972 (2.8 million trips). On average, car travel to the United States by Canadians has also increased by 3.6% and overnight trips by plane increased 0.9%. In addition, Canadians made 2.8 million same-day car trips to the United States in September, a 3.5% increase.
So there’s no denying that travel plays a large part in Canadians’ lives. Not to mention, the majority of adults travel to work either by car or by public transit where germs and viruses combined with elevated stress may contribute to unnecessary health-related issues. In other words, the more we travel, for business or pleasure, the more we need to take care of ourselves. If we don’t, we run the risk of getting rundown or sick – which can mean missing or being miserable during that important event.
The Vicious Circle
The 2010 General Social Survey on Time Use showed that longer commuting times are associated with higher stress and less satisfaction with work–life balance. The connection between commuting times and stress was clear. Of the full-time workers who took 45 minutes or more to travel to work, 36% said that most days were quite or extremely stressful. In contrast, this was the case for only 23% of workers whose commuting time was less than 15 minutes.
It is now a well-accepted fact that stress can challenge one’s immune system – and increases the risk of getting sick. The more time we spend in our cars or in public places such as trains, subways or airplanes – the more likely we are to come in contact with germs or viruses and get stressed. But there’s hope! There are certain things you can do to take care of your health before and during your travels. For instance, if an infected person coughs or sneezes near you, virus-filled droplets will move through the air, often making contact with the mouth and nose of other people. So be aware of those coughing and sneezing around you – give yourself some space.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
If you’re traveling by rail or plane, you are most likely in close quarters with others, so if someone is sick or showing signs of being ill (like coughing or sneezing and/or blowing their nose) move away if possible, otherwise keep your hands from touching your face. If you are the one sneezing and coughing, cover your mouth with a tissue and discard it as soon as possible. If no tissues are available, use your sleeve or elbow. For children, change seats so that they are not sitting beside the contaminated person. If it’s your child that is sick, try to find a seat for them so they won’t cough or sneeze on any unsuspecting passengers.
Also, remember, infected droplets will also reach surfaces like doorknobs, tabletops, handrails, phones, keyboards, and remote control devices. Flu viruses and other germs can live for two hours or longer on hard environmental surfaces, ready to be spread into the eyes, nose and mouth, if touched. To help prevent colds and flu, if your hands touch surfaces during your workday or on vacation, keep them away from your face until washed. (If a family member is sneezing and coughing inside the home, keep surfaces clean and disinfected, and continue a regimen of frequent and thorough hand washing.)
Using COLD-FX† daily during the heart of cold and flu season (particularly before important travel and events) to boost your immune system will also decrease the frequency, severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms. For regular travelers, COLD-FX comes in convenience travel packs – an 18-count Original and 12-count EXTRA – which are easy to put in your carry on luggage. The sealed blister packs also make it easy for security checks to identify it as COLD-FX.
† To be sure this product is right for you, always read and follow the label.
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