Traveling Thursday – Theme Parks

Schools start here in just a couple of weeks. It’s amazing that the long, lazy days of summer will soon give way to fall. Where has time gone?

Even as summer fades away, I know a number of families who are planning a trip to an amusement park before school begins. I’ve compiled a list of a few tips and ideas to help you get the most from your theme park trip.

  • Check into discounted tickets. You may be able to get these through AAA or using a coupon found online, through a fast food restaurant or even on a soda can. Do a little research to find savings.
  • Look for stay-and-play packages at hotels near the park.
  • Find out if you are allowed to take snacks or drinks into the park with you. This is another way to save money and make sure you’re properly hydrated.
  • Wear sunscreen. It’s amazing how quickly you can burn.
  • Look at the park map before visiting. Decide which rides you really want to do and make those a priority. Arrive early to get a jump on the crowds.
  • Scope out indoor, air-conditioned attractions and take a break during the midday sun.
  • Wear tennis shoes instead of flip-flops. Your feet will be more comfortable and better supported. You also don’t want to take the chance of losing your shoe on a ride.
  • Stay hydrated. I can’t say it often enough. Remember that water is a better choice than soda.
  • Grab maps and designate a meeting point and time if your family decides to split up to enjoy separate attractions.
  • If you have an emergency or start to feel ill, visit the first-aid station. Let the trained staff assess your situation and help as needed. It’s much less embarrassing to visit the first-aid station on your own steam than to be pulled from the park on a stretcher.
  • Pack cheap plastic ponchos. They’re great for water rides or sudden downpours.
  • Bring along a great attitude. There will be annoyances but instead of allowing yourself to get upset, try to laugh off your frustrations. The whole point of the day is for you to have a good time. Do your best to make it happen.

Traveling Thursday – Staying healthy while traveling

Travel can be rough on your body. Even a short trip means changing your routine and possibly throwing your system off kilter. Being sick or feeling a little off is never fun but it’s even worse when you are away from home, especially if you are wasting precious vacation time.

There are some basic things you can do to treat your body well and minimize the effects of travel.

Stay hydrated. More than half your body is made of water and if it’s going to function properly, you need to stay hydrated. The symptoms of jet lag can be compounded by dehydration. To take care of your body, be sure you’re drinking several glasses of water a day. If you cringe at the price of water in the airport, bring an empty bottle through security and refill it at a water fountain near your gate. Ask for water during your flight. Remember that drinks with alcohol or caffeine can make dehydration worse.

Be mindful of where that water is coming from. If you are traveling internationally, be sure to ask whether it’s OK to drink the water or not. In most European countries, there’s no reason not to drink the tap water but in other parts of the world, it can be more dicey. Ask your guide or the hotel staff. If you are encouraged to buy water, make sure you are buying a sealed bottle from a reputable shop. If you can’t drink the water, don’t eat the ice or drink any cold beverages that are mixed with water. Also, stick to fruits and vegetables that must be peeled in these countries.

Jump (well move) around. Deep Vein Thrombosis and pulmonary embolism occur when a blood clot forms in a large vein. This can be fatal if a portion of the clot breaks off and enters your lung. Most people associate the condition with long flights, say the 17.5 hour jaunt between Dulles and Johannesburg; but studies show that even four hours of travel in a plane, train, bus or car, can put you at risk. Walking around is a great way to mitigate your risk. If you can’t do that, you should raise and lower your feet/heels while seated. This PDF from the National Blood Clot Alliance offers some great prevention tips.

Get your Zzzz’s. Treat your body well and it will return the favor. If you are out late, then try to stay in bed a little longer the next morning. Remember that caffeine can make dehydration worse so don’t try to make up for your lack of sleep by downing mass amounts of coffee.

Watch what you eat. Yes, it’s vacation and you should feel free to indulge but keep it under control. Your body doesn’t want a steady diet of deep fried, fatty foods. Try to balance heavy meals with lighter options.

Pack the antibac and sunscreen. You’ll need them both. I got a sunburn in Scotland because I was expecting dark, dreary skies. You’ll likely have at least one intensely sunny day so pack a small tube of sunscreen.

This post could go on and on. There are so many easy, common sense things you can do to have healthy travels. For more great tips, and in depth coverage on things like vaccinations and region-specific issues, visit the CDC’s site for
great resources and tips.