Planning and preparing for a much-needed vacation can sometimes leave travelers exhausted and grumpy before a trip even begins -- not to mention the fact that they'll face countless potential health hazards while away from home.
But there are plenty of ways to beat fatigue and take care of your mind and body while you're en route. Practice these simple tips to ensure you arrive relaxed and ready to enjoy your stay, and return home feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.
Take note of the prescription or nonprescription medications you need on a regular basis. If you're flying, pack liquid or gel containers of larger than 3.4-ounces in your checked baggage. Keep pills and tablets in carry-on luggage to make sure that they get there with you.
If your medications are timed throughout the day and you are traveling to a location outside your time zone, make sure you keep a watch set at your home time so that your regimen remains the same.
Take along photocopies of your insurance ID card as well as the names and phone numbers of your pharmacist and health care providers along with a complete list of all the medications you are taking. If you are traveling to a non-English-speaking country, consider having a list of any chronic medical conditions you may have translated into the native language.
Check the local emergency number upon arrival; not all communities use 911. When traveling with children, make sure that they know the name and telephone number of your hotel in case they get separated from you, and give them enough money to make a phone call.
Check immunization recommendations for your destination and make sure that everyone in your party is adequately protected against any infectious disease you might encounter. The Centers for Disease Control maintains updated advisories and immunization requirements for travelers to all parts of the world.
Stay hydrated -- particularly on a long trip -- to avoid fatigue and muscle aches. Recirculated air in planes, trains, and automobiles can leave you parched both inside and out.
Drink lots of water while on the road, and spritz a skin tonic (try Evian Mineral Water Spray) on your face to keep a healthy, hydrated glow. Air travelers should drink 16 ounces of water before boarding a flight, and at least 8 ounces of water per hour while flying.
Immobility for long periods of time can lead to many health problems, from a painful stiff neck to a potentially serious blood-clotting condition known as Deep Vein Thrombosis. To avoid muscle aches while sitting in a car, train, or airplane, do these exercises often.
Ask before you drink the water in less economically developed countries if you want to avoid the risk of diarrhea. (Bottled water may be safe, and some hotels and restaurants use purification systems.) Bottled carbonated sodas, beer, and wine are safe, but traveler's diarrhea can also result from drinking beverages that contain contaminated ice.
If you are visiting an area where diarrheal illnesses are common (Mexico, for example), speak with your health care provider about getting a prescription for antibiotics. Fill the prescription and take it with you as a precaution.
Upon arrival at your destination, visit a spa. Immerse tired muscles in a whirlpool or hot bath -- and for maximum relaxation, splurge on a sports massage.
"This type of massage is usually intended for an athlete before a competition, but the great benefit for travelers is the warming up and stretching of the muscles," says Ryan Holt, spa director at Serenity by the Sea in Destin, Florida. "When your body stays in the same position for long periods of time, circulation decreases and cramping often occurs. A sports massage will get the blood flowing and is recommended upon arrival and departure, especially for those traveling long distances."