Your vacation should be the highlight of your year– don’t let sickness ruin it for you! Read these tips for staying healthy while traveling in the Caribbean to prevent some of the most common ailments that affect Caribbean tourists.
1. Drink lots of water
It’s no secret that the Caribbean is a sunny region, with average temperatures of 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit year round. In addition, Caribbean weather can be hot and humid at times, so it’s important to stay hydrated.
That being said, be sure NOT to drink tap water, unless a local has specifically informed you that it’s ok for a foreigner to do so. That’s because most Caribbean countries do not have drinkable tap water. In some cases, you may see locals drinking tap water, but this is because their digestive systems are used to drinking it, and it will not make them sick.
2. Use sunscreen
Don’t let sunburn and the subsequent pain and peeling keep you from enjoying your vacation! You’ll most likely be outdoors a lot, so prevent sunburn (and cancer!) with adequate sunscreen.
3. Take care of your digestive health
Be careful about eating street food. Bring probiotics in your suitcase to aid digestion, even if you think you have “an iron stomach”. Food-borne illnesses can happen anywhere, so make sure your food is completely cooked, and don’t eat at any establishments that skimp on cleanliness.
4. Get enough sleep
You probably won’t suffer from jet lag in the Caribbean if you’re arriving from the Western Hemisphere, but you can get sleep deprived from too much activity. Don’t overload your schedule to the point where you’re so tired, you won’t enjoy the excursions you’ve planned and looked forward to.
Add some “downtime” in your schedule and allow yourself to arrive at your villa or hotel earlier on some nights so that you stay rested for the duration of your trip. In addition, don’t schedule highly exhausting activities for the day you arrive.
5. Bring antibacterial wipes or gel
These will help protect you from germs, and viruses like the common cold that could ruin all the fun. Keep them handy, because most beaches and jungles don’t have bathroom facilities where you can wash your hands.
6. Bring “layers”
Although Caribbean weather is generally warm to hot, temperatures can drop down to the 60s and 70s at night, especially if you’re staying at higher altitudes. In addition, coming in out of the hot sun into an air-conditioned restaurant can be really uncomfortable. Therefore, it’s a good idea to wear layers of clothing that you can put on or take off as the weather permits.
7. Use bug spray
Mosquito-borne illnesses are common in the tropics. Use bug spray to prevent diseases like dengue, chikungunya, zika, and others. In addition, be sure to use mosquito netting if you plan on camping outdoors.
8. Get any necessary vaccines
Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Travel Health website for updated information about each Caribbean country. You can find out ahead of time if any vaccines are required for entry, and what disease warnings there are, if any, for each country.
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