Winter in Canada can elicit one of two very specific reactions.
Either you embrace it wholeheartedly, don your toque and hit the slopes.
Or you begin the frantic search for sun and sand the moment the first wind blows.
Trips to Mexico and the Caribbean should be built into the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If you make it to February, you are more than entitled to a getaway in my books.
But aren't you also entitled to come home feeling like you actually got the vacation?
It would seem that many of you agree.
In a recent Vector survey commissioned by GlaxoSmithKline Inc., 63% of Canadians surveyed said they travel to relax and relieve stress and more than half (59%) said they expect to come back with the lasting reward and benefit of feeling rejuvenated and well-rested.
They place a high value on bringing home the bliss they find on vacation to help them get through the rest of the Canadian winter season.
And when they get sick when they come back from vacation, then that can ruin everything.
More than 1/3 (39%) of those surveyed said that coming home with a serious health problem would put a quick end to their vacation bliss.
Makes sense, right?
The question is what can you do to make sure that you don't come back with a major health concern? I'm glad you asked.
Here are three things that have become a part of our family's routine to make sure our vacations aren't derailed by preventable illness.
1. Get Informed:
Before you leave, think about where you're going and the potential risks that you may be exposed to while you're there. Keep in mind the season you're travelling in as well. Some places are only prone to certain possible risky illnesses during rainy months, for example. Check with friends who've been, local guidebooks and even your hotel concierge who may help you feel more comfortable with your destination. Consider the extra vigilance as an investment in your personal health.
2. Think Prevention:
Should something happen while you're away, being informed will help to make sure that you have a plan in place, but you should also give some thought to how you can make sure you aren't at risk in the first place. One way to do this is review the activities you have planned with an eye for potential harm or illness. Have you booked some reef snorkeling? Have an appointment at the spa? Just planning to sip icy drinks on the beach? These seemingly simple activities can still leave you at potential risk for illnesses, including viral hepatitis - even if you're staying at a luxury resort. If you take the time to do your research before you go, you'll be able to make smart choices about any travel vaccines you may need. Before our trip around the world we made sure to go through our needs in detail so that we could enjoy the trip with confidence.
Whether it's the little things like aloe vera for a sunburn or bigger things like the over-the-counter medications you trust for things like nausea or travellers' diarrhea, having them with you will go a long way towards helping you feel better. Don't leave it to chance that the things you need will be available where you're going. And if you regularly carry those things in your travelling medical kit take the time before each trip to make sure that they aren't expired. When purchasing, pick pills/tablets over liquids so you don't risk having them taken away by airport security and leave medications in their original packaging whenever possible.
We invest too much time and energy planning our vacations, packing our bags and enduring terrible airplane seatmates to sacrifice the trip. Protect the mind, body and soul rewards that a vacation brings with a little bit of forethought and a well-packed bag. Here's to a happy, illness-free winter getaway.
Follow Heather Greenwood Davis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/greenwooddavis