Healthy Summer Travel Tips

By Anokhi Shah, MD, an Internal Medicine physician at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center and member of RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group

As the weather warms and summer approaches, many people are looking forward to traveling. While you pack your bags and plan your itinerary, I offer the following safety tips to keep in mind when you go out of town this summer.

  • Keep calm and make a list. Planning for travel can be stressful. Create a checklist ahead of time so nothing is left for last minute.
  • Bring a small first-aid kit. No matter how careful you are, injuries can happen and traveling with a first aid kit with the basics is good idea. Include adhesive bandages, alcohol wipes, gauze and over-the-counter medications you may need, like Tylenol or Motrin, motion sickness medication or anti-allergy medication.
  • Plan for emergency care. Emergencies arise. To be prepared, find out whether your primary care physician offers telehealth should you need a doctor while you’re away. You can also create an account with RWJBarnabas Health’s TeleMed Service for virtual care. To learn more, visit Don’t forget to carry a list of current medications, medical conditions, vaccination status and treating physicians.
  • Wash your hands frequently. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, washing your hands with soap and water is one of the easiest things you can do to prevent getting sick, especially when traveling. Research shows that handwashing results in significant reductions in cases of diarrhea and respiratory illnesses. You can also pack hand sanitizer and moist towelettes should you not have access to a bathroom.
  • Drink plenty of water. It is important to stay hydrated. I recommend using bottled water or suggest you consider bringing a filtered water bottle – if you can wash it with soap and water every day. Before heading to your international destination, check if it has a drinkable water supply; if not, stick to bottled water and drinks.
  • Stay active on long rides and flights. Staying in the same position for hours at a time can bring the risk of swelling due to a buildup of fluid in the body’s tissues. Stretch and take walking breaks, and consider wearing compression socks or stockings.
  • Practice water safety. For many, traveling includes swimming and boating. Even experienced swimmers and boaters can be caught off guard in unfamiliar conditions. Unfortunately, accidental drownings and water-related accidents are one of the leading causes of death of Americans abroad. As such, remember to take extra precautions when enjoying recreational activities in and around water. When you’re using boats for transportation or exploration, always obey posted signs, use a life jacket if available, and don’t take unnecessary risks. Be mindful of areas where sharks are more prevalent.
  • Be careful taking photos. I know you want to grab a great photo to post to social media, but please don’t put yourself in harm’s way to do so. Pay attention to posted warnings, especially around cliffs and areas with wildlife.
  • Make safe food choices. For many, traveling is synonymous with food. For those who can’t resist being adventurous when traveling, I suggest avoiding raw or street foods and instead eating at popular places with long lines.
  • Get your sleep. Have a routine, a comfortable environment, and refrain from eating or drinking three hours before bed. Don’t take sleep aids unless you’ve done so before and know what side effects they have on your body.

Anokhi Shah, MD, encourages open communication with her patients, which allows her to guide them through their treatment as active participants in their own well-being. A kind and concerned board-certified internist, she believes in providing excellent patient care and strives towards quickly bringing patients back to their routine way of life. She understands their needs and treats every person with the compassion, respect, and attention they deserve.

Dr. Shah is part of Premier Primary Care, located at 200 South Orange Avenue, Livingston, NJ. To schedule an appointment, please call 973-322-7838.