In light of the recent press coverage on illness and disease associated with traveling abroad, here are a few helpful tips you may wish to pass along to your clients:
The simple advice in the title of this article says it all. Food-and water-related illnesses are some of the most common ailments experienced by travelers. In many instances, the foods or preparation thereof is different that what we’re used to at home, even if the dish is something familiar (eggs, for example). In addition, encourage travelers to stay in good-quality accommodations where the drinking water is safe. When they venture out to explore, the availability of bottled or purified water is essential.
· Stay hydrated. Jet-lag, the stress of traveling, fatigue, being out of your routine, eating different foods, and constantly being on the go can all take a toll on a traveler’s body. Staying hydrated should help combat the effects of these different factors. Also, travelers should keep in mind the climate and season in their destination, as these may have an effect on their hydration needs and well-being.
· Wash or sanitize your hands often. Germs are everywhere!
· Get some exercise. For travelers who exercise regularly, it is important to keep up their activity as much as possible while traveling. Make use of the fitness center, pack your own travel fitness gear, or improvise as needed. Full water bottles can be a great stand-in for weights!
· With regard to allergies and dietary restrictions, take the same precautions you would at home. Many people say they are uncomfortable with traveling abroad because they fear that they may not be able to communicate the seriousness or severity of their needs to chefs, waiters, housekeepers or others in their destination. In addition, there is the fear that the traveler may unknowingly be exposed to an allergen, which in some cases, could have dire consequences. My response to these concerns is always two-fold: a) Generally speaking, the person is at no greater risk in their chosen destination than they are at home; and b) If the normal precautions the person takes work well at home, why would they not work well in any other destination? Here are a few examples of common concerns and how they can be addressed:
Traveler’s Concern: I have a lot of food allergies!
Suggestion: Let me help you find a vacation option where your specific needs can be most comfortably accommodated. We can make sure the cruise line, resort, and others are aware of your needs. However, it is also highly advisable that travelers carry a note written in English and any applicable foreign language(s) alerting people to their allergies or dietary restrictions. Showing this at restaurants and any other venue where the traveler has a concern will ensure that language barriers do not cause an issue.
Traveler’s Concern: There are a lot of things I can’t eat!
Suggestion: We will speak to our suppliers and make sure your dietary needs can be accommodated before we book. Most cruise lines, resorts, and tour operators offer a variety of choices when it comes to dining. If you have any specific questions, please let us know ahead of time.
Traveler’s Concern: I have to carry a lot of medicines and other medical necessities!
Suggestion: Always pack medications, supplies and other medically necessary items in your carry-on luggage, and have a note from your doctor for any items that might be called into question by airport security. This not only makes for less hassle and ensures you won’t lose your necessities, but it also ensures your safety and well-being en route and in case of any delays. At your destination, make sure your medications and supplies are properly stored, and that you have them on hand whenever necessary.
Traveler’s Concern: I don’t want to end up in a foreign hospital!
Suggestion: Careful planning, along with these basic precautions, are aimed at making sure you don’t have to worry about that.
· Be sure all necessary vaccinations and inoculations are up-to-date. This is especially important for travelers visiting remote or exotic destinations, or those with a known threat or risk of certain diseases. For more information, visit: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/
As with any advice you give your clients, be sure they are aware of the caveats: You as the travel professional are providing general travel advice only, and all travelers should consult a physician with regard to any medical concerns or conditions prior to traveling. Ask your clients to refer to the Consular Information from the U.S. Department of State’s travel Web site (www.travel.state.gov) for specific information pertaining to their destination. You may want to send them the link for the countries they are visiting.
Our goal as travel agents is to make sure our clients are well-informed and prepared for safe and healthy travels. The experience they have while traveling and the memories they create depend greatly upon it.