News and Information

Summer Safety Tips: Items to Pack for a Safe and Healthy Vacation


What's in Your Suitcase?

Summer is finally here! For many, this means leisurely mornings, afternoon naps and putting the final touches on your summer vacation plans. Just as important as remembering to pack your bathing suit and flip-flops is making sure to include some less obvious items that can help you stay safe on your next vacation.

Apply sunscreen!

There’s nothing worse than starting off your first day of vacation with a painful sunburn. Not only are you dealing with sensitive, damaged skin for the duration of your time away, you’ve now raised your risk for skin cancer. Whether your vacation plans involve a day at the beach or hiking, it’s important to protect yourself from the sun.

  • Load up on sunscreen with SPF of 30 or more. An adult needs to use 2 ounces (about the size of a shot glass) every time they apply.
  • Look for lotions labeled “broad spectrum” and water-resistant, and for toddlers and children more than six months of age, sunscreen containing titanium dioxide and zinc oxide tend to be less irritating to young, sensitive skin.
  • Be sure double-check the expiration date on your sunscreen. Lotions or sprays that are out of date lose their effectiveness.

“If the expiration date is not determinable, discard sunscreen if you’ve had it longer than three years,” recommends Dermatologist Ashley Walker, MD, CaroMont Dermatology. “Changes in the color or consistency of the sunscreen may also indicate expired or ineffective sunscreen. When in doubt, throw it out. A good tip is to label your sunscreens with the purchase date to avoid confusion in the future.”

Wear protective clothing!

For additional coverage protection, it’s a good idea to throw a hat and sunglasses in your travel bag.

Pack your antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer!

Ask any parent, you can never have enough antibacterial wipes or hand sanitizer. Keep travel size packs of wipes and sanitizer handy that you can pull out at a moment’s notice. Wipes are perfect to wipe down surfaces in restaurants and on airplanes. Keep hands germ-free using small bottles of hand sanitizer, which are great for travel and everyday use.

Grab a water bottle!

Staying hydrated is especially important when it’s hot outside, and drinking lots of water will help make sure you feel your best and avoid the fatigue, dizziness and headaches that can be associated with dehydration. Pack a few bottled waters or reusable water bottles to use throughout your trip, rather than having to haul around a heavy 24-pack everywhere you go. Not only will this save you money, but it’s great for the environment too. One exception to this is if you’re traveling to an area that may not have drinkable water. In this case, it’s best to buy bottled water or water that has already been filtered and is ready for consumption.

Pack your first-aid kit!

Be sure to think about where you’re going on your vacation and whether you will have access to health items and supplies. Play it safe and throw in a small first-aid kit when you travel. It should contain band-aids, antibacterial ointment, over-the-counter pain relievers, athletic tape, tweezers and other essential items. It’s good practice to keep a travel kit in your car at all times and not just when you’re on vacation.

Make sure you bring your health insurance card and other information!

Plan for the worst and hope for the best. Make sure you pack your health insurance member ID card along with photo copies in case you lose it while you are traveling.

“Before you go on vacation, it’s a good idea to talk to your health insurance company to see if your benefits will cover you when you’re away and make sure you understand your coverage options if you or your kids get sick or injured,” said Donna Finley, Director of Patient Financial Services at CaroMont Health.

If you’re taking any prescription medicines, pack enough to last for the entire trip and maybe a few extras in case your travel plans are prolonged for some reason. The U.S. Department of State recommends carrying copies of your prescription medicines and if you’re traveling out of the country, a letter from your doctor for these prescriptions due to different countries’ laws about over-the-counter medications.

Pack essential Over-the Counter Medications!

When you enter a new environment, even if it’s only a few hours from home, you’re being introduced to surroundings that you’re not used to. For this reason, you might consider packing some standard over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as antihistamine, decongestant, anti-motion sickness tablets and antacid. For a more extensive OTC list, check out the traveler’s smart checklist by The Centers for Disease Control at

For a complete list and guide for foreign travel such as any vaccines you may need, travel warnings and required travel documents visit

Get some rest and relaxation!

In the midst of making sure you’ve checked everything off the list, don’t lose sight of the real reason you’re going on vacation—some much-needed rest and relaxation. And to help you unwind, think about packing some fun things like a good book, your tablet, magazines or download a relaxation playlist on your phone. Better yet, put your phone down. In all of our efforts to do more, produce better results and take on more responsibility, we have lives filled with some form of stress, even if we don’t always acknowledge it. Vacations have a good way of interrupting the stress cycle and temporarily allowing us a chance to press the reboot button.

So, if you’re looking for permission to cut the cord, take a breath and disconnect from the world for a moment, here’s your ticket. It’s yours for the taking. Bon voyage!


Categories: Health