As a jet-setting mom, gastroenterologist, and founder of probiotic skincare line TULA, Dr. Roshini Raj knows spring break comes with health risks.
In an effort to keep your break all about the sun and fun – without illness, injury, or fatigue killing your buzz – Dr. Raj gave Travel + Leisure her tips on how to stay healthy while enjoying your vacation.
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Don’t be a fool at the pool bar.
Nothing says vacation more than lounging on the beach with a fruity cocktail in your hand, but don’t be fooled by that innocent-looking tiny umbrella. While it is hard to taste the alcohol mixed in with all the fruit juice, those drinks can contain high alcohol content, not to mention tons of calories and sugar.
And day drinking in the hot sun when you are already prone to dehydration will make you more dehydrated and will cause you to get drunk more quickly. So be mindful of how many drinks you consume during the day and alternate each alcoholic drink with a tall glass of water. Also, sticking to spirits with a splash of lemon or lime and soda will help curb the calorie overload.
It’s cool to be shady.
Snow and sand both reflect the sun, so whether you are on the slopes or the beach, proper sun protection is a must. Not only does UV radiation cause skin cancer, but it also is the number one cause of aging skin – i.e. wrinkles and dark spots.
So in addition to using your SPF and regularly reapplying – especially after sweating or going in the water – you should use lightweight, sun-protective clothing and a hat whenever possible.
This is very important for children, whose skin is even more sensitive to the sun. Remember that UV exposure during childhood is a major factor in determining skin cancer risk down the road.
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What happens in Vegas does not always stay in Vegas.
Single and ready to mingle? Vacation is about having fun, but not about taking unnecessary sexual risks. STDs know no borders – so pack and use condoms if there is the possibility of a sexual encounter. But also make wise choices: Be wary of being alone with a stranger, and make sure that your friends know where you are at all times. Drink judiciously so that your judgment remains intact and you do not put yourself in dangerous situations.
Step away from the buffet.
Having fun on vacation does not mean you need to gorge yourself at every meal. Having healthy snacks on hand for the airport as well as the trip itself – like nuts, fruit, and baby carrots – will keep you satiated and less likely to overdo it during mealtime.
Buying food and preparing one or two meals a day in your hotel or vacation home will not only save you money but will also ensure that you are eating healthier. Of course you should enjoy the local foods and not deprive yourself too much, but don’t go overboard just because the food is plentiful.
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Taking a vacation is important for our mental and physical health because it allows us time away from the daily stresses of work and home life and an opportunity to recharge. Make sure you incorporate downtime into the vacation schedule so you can literally do nothing but relax.
This is very important for children also, who tend to be over-scheduled these days. Prioritize sleep as well – you will get more out of your vacation if you are well rested, and you will feel truly rejuvenated when you get back to real life.
For more health tips, follow @DrRoshiniRaj on Twitter.
This article originally appeared in Travel & Leisure.