Important Message from The Joint Chiropractic regarding COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) - Read More

As Post-Pandemic Vacations Return, Make Sure You Return Safely

By Martha Michael

It’s Time for Vacations

Across America, the 15-month COVID staycation is turning into a summer vacation that’s clogging freeways and airports in nearly every city. But the excitement to leave the lockdown behind may tempt you to flex your freedom from other constraints and recommendations, some of which are established for maximum health outcomes.

For the same reason you buy supportive shoes to climb Machu Picchu or take malaria pills before a trip to Sub-Saharan Africa, there are steps to consider that can lower your health and safety risks while traveling.

Tips for an Active Playcation

Families on a cruise ship don’t face the risks to their health that adventure lovers do. Some activities are obvious -- bull riding and skydiving are clearly more dangerous than simply driving across state lines. And statistics bear that out.

According to Cision PR Newswire, a survey by New Guardian Life Insurance Company shows that 34 percent of Americans say they’ve been injured themselves or they know someone else who’s been hurt on vacation. And among adventurous types, that number goes up to 49 percent. Among average traveling Americans, 20 percent have had an incident on vacation when they thought they might die. That number rises to 28 percent for adventurous travelers.

If you aren’t the type to park yourself on the sand and just enjoy the view this summer, just be sure you educate yourself about the risks of various activities and prepare accordingly.

Bicycling Trips

Bicycling tour companies are scheduling trips again and they’re available across the United States. They often include food, lodging, and multiple routes for varying degrees of difficulty. They can’t, however, prevent the possibility of accidents, so be aware of the presence of vehicles while sharing the road.

In 2018, there were 857 fatal deaths in collisions between motor vehicles and bicycles, according to Outside Magazine. There were 846 bicyclists who were hit and killed by drivers in 2019.

Data from BikeMaps.org shows that roughly a quarter of deaths from collisions between a bicycle and a vehicle are hit-and-runs. The five states reporting the most cycling fatalities are:

  • Texas
  • Florida
  • New York
  • California
  • Louisiana

While these states are among the most populous in the country, Florida and California have the most deaths per million residents. Perhaps you can choose a New England bike trip or tour the Midwest. But if you’re thinking a rural bike tour will save you the risks, statistics disagree. There were as many fatal crashes in rural areas as there were in cities and the suburbs.

Zip Lining

There are more than 400 commercial zip lines in America and every year they offer 70 million rides, according to the Robson Forensic website. In an article on zip line safety, it says there are stringent requirements for everything from engineering to operations, but the oversight comes from state and local agencies; there are no federal regulations.

According to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, every year there are approximately 11.64 zip line injuries per 1 million population. These include strains/sprains, bruises, broken bones and concussions/head injuries. If you choose to zip line outside the United States it is, of course, at your own risk. It may be a good idea to check the regulations governing recreation in that country.

Mountain Climbing

Nearly 10 million Americans enjoy mountain climbing, an activity that comes with known risks. An article by Healthline addresses the two most important considerations for safety while climbing -- carrying the right equipment and preventing altitude-related illnesses. Common symptoms include nausea, headache, and shortness of breath.

Some of the article’s suggestions to prevent altitude sickness are:

  • Ascend slowly
  • Eat carbohydrates
  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid alcohol

Best Practices for Healthy Travel

Vacations are supposed to be fun, and nothing kills the mood like aches and pains or sickness. The University of Texas Health website has tips for boosting your chance of feeling good when you travel.

If your modus operandi includes staying up the night before you leave to handle last-minute details, try to change that this time around. Operating without enough sleep makes you less physically prepared for lugging bags, crossing time zones, and exploring whole cities on foot.

The presence of a pandemic isn’t the only reason to carry hand sanitizer. Areas of airports, rest stops, and amusement parks are touched by millions of people in some cases. You can eliminate germs with wipes or antiseptic spray and by washing your hands at every opportunity to further decrease the odds of contracting an illness.

Before You Embark

Prepare for your trip by seeing your chiropractor. A routine visit not only addresses any budding physical problems, it also gives you the peace of mind that you’re embarking on your journey with a clean bill of health. If you’re an adventure traveler, you benefit most from a chiropractic visit before and after your trip. By getting a baseline of your health condition you can identify changes to your wellness when you return.

When in Rome, do what the Romans do. Whether you’re in Banff or the Bahamas, a thoughtful traveler will pay attention to signage and heed the precautions laid out by health officials. High in the saddle or flying the friendly skies, following health and safety guidelines is like choosing the right footwear -- it’s a step in the right direction.

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