Hitting Mexico or the Caribbean on your next vacation? Make the most of it by ensuring you stay healthy for maximum fun in the sun. Being prepared means more than simply working out like crazy so you'll look great in that new swimsuit or bikini. Here are nine healthy must-dos that'll help you stay beachside, not stuck in bed (or in the bathroom).
1. Watch what you drink
Cut your risk of diarrhea by sticking with beverages made with boiled water such as hot tea or coffee, or cold drinks that come to you straight in the bottle or can. Avoid ice, and if you're not sure how safe a glass is (it should be clean and dry), just drink the bevvy straight up from the bottle or can after wiping it off if the surface is wet.
2. Bring your meds
Pack prescription medications in your carry-on baggage, and make sure you have enough for the duration of your trip. Stash them in the original prescription-bottle packaging with your name on it.
3. Wear your flip-flops
Keep those sandals on (even on the beach!) to cut your risk of catching a parasitic or fungal infection. Hey, at least you've got a great excuse to buy a wardrobe of beach sandals. Bonus: your pedicure will stay fresh longer.
4. Kiss and tell
Here's one time when it's good to kiss and tell. Always make sure your travelling companions and friends know where you are (which should be your own hotel if you're considering a romantic interlude) and who you're going with.
5. Breathe easy
If you have a respiratory condition such as asthma, avoid the pollution of Mexico City and Guadalajara, which is particularly severe from December through May. Hit the beaches of hot spots like Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Cancun or the Caribbean instead.
Page 1 of 2 -- Find tips on keeping yourself protected against sickness and disease while travelling on page 2
6. Watch what you eat
Eat like a finicky little kid. All raw food contains a contamination risk, so eat only cooked, still-hot food. Avoid raw salads and unpasteurized milk products, and only eat fruit you've washed and peeled yourself. And remember, while street meat can be yummy and tempting, buying food and drinks from street vendors mean an increased risk of getting ill. (Antimicrobial medications may help if you get traveller's diarrhea, so see your doctor before you leave so you can bring some with you, just in case.)
7. Keep up with vaccinations
Immunizations against hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid are highly recommended. Hepatitis A and typhoid can be transmitted through contaminated food, while hepatitis B is transmitted through bodily fluids. Your doctor might also suggest booster shots for tetanus, diphtheria and measles. These shots take time to offer protection, so see your doc four to six weeks before you take off. If you're heading into the wilderness, a rabies shot is also a good idea.
8. Protect against malaria
Malaria is spread by infected mosquitoes and is a serious illness that can cause kidney failure, coma and even death if not immediately treated. So if you're heading into Kingston, Jamaica, Hispaniola in the Dominican Republic, or certain rural areas of Mexico including Oaxaca, Quintana, Sinaloa, Tabasco and parts of Sonora, Chihuahua and Durango, see your doctor about getting a preventative drug. Make sure you follow through by taking it vigilantly, before, during and after your vacation, exactly per your doctor's directions. Even if you're going to a malaria-free zone, you can take the extra step of protecting yourself from irritating bites with an insect repellant containing DEET.
9. Stay alert
Especially if you're away on a girls-only vacation or are hitting the nightclubs in party-heavy Mexican locales like Cancun, Mazatlan and Acapulco, which are known for a criminal element, it's important to stay with your friends and keep an eye on your drinks so they can't be drugged. Also, when you use bank machines, try to do so during the daytime, in large commercial establishments (like your hotel lobby).
And finally, don't forget your sunscreen -- SPF 30, please.
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