Family vacations are the stuff lifetime memories are made of—but if someone ends up getting sick, those memories might not be quite the ones you had in mind. When you’re on vacation, the trick is to balance fun and relaxation with extra steps to help you stay healthy away from home. In the age of Covid 19, the stakes are even higher for travelers. Protect yourself and your family with these 10 products that support travel health.
Travel Disinfectant Wipes
From your seatback tray table to the TV remote at your hotel, just about every surface you encounter during your vacation is probably covered with germs. (Yuck.) Especially if you’re traveling with little ones who like to touch everything, you’ll want to wipe down any surfaces within reach using travel disinfectant wipes. Keep in mind that it may take a few minutes for the germs to be fully eradicated—check the product instructions for details.
UV Light Sanitizing Wand
An alternative to wiping everything down with travel disinfectant wipes is to scan germy areas with a UV light sanitizing wand, which kills more than 99 percent of bacteria and viruses. These are particularly handy for surfaces that are tricky to sanitize with a wipe, such as hotel beds or sofas.
When soap and water aren’t available—in the middle of a long car ride, for instance, or during a hike—hand sanitizer is the next best thing to protect your travel health. Rub a little into your hands before treating yourself to a snack or touching your face.
First Aid Kit
Bandages, antibiotic ointment, pain relievers, and a thermometer are wise additions to any family travel packing list so you can deal with minor illnesses and injuries without having to see a doctor. While you can easily put together your own first aid kit, there are plenty of travel-friendly first aid kit options on the market so you can buy everything you need with one click.
Wearing insect repellent isn’t just a matter of preventing annoyingly itchy bug bites; more importantly, it’s a way to protect your family from tick- and mosquito-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Zika virus, and West Nile virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends insect repellents containing ingredients such as DEET and picaridin for maximum protection.
Not-so-fun fact: Your phone is 10 times dirtier than a toilet seat. If you, like most people, have been a little lax about keeping it clean, consider investing in a UV sanitizer specifically built for phones. Many phone sanitizer cases will also charge your device while they’re cleaning, so there’s no excuse not to use them every night of your vacation.
If you’ll be spending any time outdoors (even on cloudy days), sunscreen is a must to prevent sunburn. Apply it at least 15 minutes before you go outdoors and reapply regularly throughout the day, particularly after spending time in the water. If you’ll be swimming or snorkeling in an area with coral reefs, wear reef-safe sunscreen to avoid damaging this delicate ecosystem.
For as long as COVID-19 continues to be a risk in the U.S. and around the world, wearing a cloth face mask is important to help prevent the spread of the virus, according to the CDC. You can make your own mask or purchase one specifically for adults or children.
You can only eat so much junk food on the road before everyone starts to feel a little icky. Pack a few healthier snacks such as fruit, nuts, and trail mix so you don’t need to resort to McDonald’s or convenience stores every time you need a snack. For road trips, consider bringing a travel cooler for storing perishable items such as yogurt or carrot sticks.
If your family vacations include camping or travel to developing countries, you’ll need a plan for making sure your drinking water is safe. Instead of relying on bottled water, consider a more eco-friendly alternative like the LifeStraw Go, a reusable water bottle that filters out bacteria, protozoan parasites, and microplastics. Another alternative is the SteriPen, which uses UV light to treat water for bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.
The magic of bringing your own water bottle is that it helps you build the routine of hydration, and that’s vital for staying healthy on vacation. Since water is a key part of a healthy immune system, making sure you get plenty of liquids is an easy and effective healthy habit. Find the water bottle that best fits your needs and style: if you want perfect-temperature water, try a Hydro Flask (or the cheaper Amazon version). For people looking to travel light, an option like a Nomader Collapsible Water Bottle or a Vapur Flexible Water Bottle can be a just-right fit. There are plenty of kids water bottles sized for smaller hands as well.
While none of these products is an appropriate substitute for simply staying home as much as possible during the Covid 19 pandemic, they can help you protect yourself against some of the common illnesses you might encounter while traveling.