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HEALTHY HUSKY: Tips for a safe and healthy spring break

By Luke Belval
On March 14, 2014

Spring break is one of the most exciting times of the year, when many students choose to forego the strange hybrid winter/spring of Storrs for either warmer ground or a chance to experience something different. While those are great ways to relieve some of the stress from a hectic semester, there are some tips that you should keep in mind whenever you travel to minimize the risk that an illness will ruin your trip or make your return to normal life that much more difficult.
Some of the best things you can do to ensure that your trip is a fun and safe one are the preventative measures your mother annoyed you about. Sunscreen and bug spray can go a long way in ensuring you don't end up burnt. The key thing to remember with sunscreen is the need to reapply. SPF, or sun protection factor, simply dictates how long you can stay in the sun relative to not wearing sunscreen. This means that your application schedule is highly individual; if you have sensitive skin, more frequent application is necessary even with high SPF ratings.
Bug spray is also an invaluable tool for those of you travelling to warmer environments, as even the diseases that insects carry are different from UConn. Mosquitoes and ticks are of particular concern due to their transmission of some well-known diseases. Mosquitoes carry a variety of diseases that can range from debilitating to deadly, depending on the region. The best prevention seems to be a good application of bug spray and avoiding areas of standing water if possible. If you are travelling in an area that may be tick dense, do a body check at least every 24 hours to catch ticks in time.
Another health item to be aware of during travel is the dynamic effect that flights can have on your body. Between the disturbance in your circadian rhythm from changing time zones to the overall stress that being on a plane causes, there are many things that can go wrong. First off, when changing time zones it is important to try and adapt to your new time zone as quickly as possible. This means it is often prudent to change your watch once you step on the plane and try to follow a schedule suited for the new time zone as soon as you land. If it is absolutely necessary for you to get some shuteye once you land, try to minimize sleep to a nap. You will be thankful as your vacation goes on that you were able to establish a normal sleep schedule so quickly. Additionally, when you are flying, make sure to pay attention to your hydration. Dehydration due to the combination of dry cabins and limited availability of fluids can compromise your body's function long before you land.
Finally, some quick tips on managing illness while you are away. While the last thing you want to plan for when you are packing is that you might get sick, it is important to consider bringing some of the bare necessities so that you can manage even the slightest symptoms. While you do not need to bring a portable pharmacy, simply having something like Pepto-Bismol around can be hugely useful, even if only dealing with a disagreement between your stomach and the local cuisine.
While these tips may make it seem like travelling is meant to mess with your health, it is very easy to travel safely. Simply by being mindful of your actions, you can enjoy a happy and healthy trip.

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