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How to Map Out a Safe Vacation

If you're going on vacation—whether to cruise the Greek islands or visit your grandchildren in Maine—a little planning goes a long way. Although we all enjoy a bit of excitement on vacation, most of us don't like unexpected surprises. By thinking ahead and planning for your vacation before you go, the only surprises you'll encounter are the nice ones, such as finding a deserted beach or hearing your grandchild's first words.

Health matters

When getting ready to leave, you know to grab your toothbrush, stop the mail, and pack clothes for every type of weather imaginable. But what about preparing for your health? No one plans to become ill while away from home, but it's a good idea to be prepared for unexpected health issues that may arise.

Follow these tips:

  • Check with your health plan about out-of-area coverage. Know what to do if you need urgent or emergency care while you're away.

  • If you have a chronic medical condition, such as high blood pressure, talk with your health care provider before you go. Ask if you need to take any special precautions when traveling.

  • If you take prescription medications, make sure you have enough to last your entire trip. Check with your airline to find out its rules on where to pack your medicines. If possible, include them with your carry-on bag instead of checking them with your luggage. Keep drugs in their original, labeled bottles.

  • Make sure you are properly immunized, including tetanus and flu shots. If you travel abroad, you may need additional vaccinations. Check with your health care provider to see what you might need or check with the official travelers' guide provided by the CDC.

Smart traveling

Mishaps, such as losing your passport or having your car break down, can ruin a vacation. Help preserve your blood pressure (and sanity) by planning ahead. Here are suggestions to help you have a fun, relaxing and safe vacation:

  • Carry a cell phone.

  • If you are traveling by car, make sure your car has had a recent tune-up. You also should have a spare tire, a jack, a flashlight, a fire extinguisher, motor oil, extra fan belts, and jumper cables.

  • If you are going out of the country, take a photocopy of your passport and return tickets. Keep the copies in a safe place, such as the hotel's safe-deposit box. If your passport or tickets are lost or stolen, having copies will make it easier to replace them.

  • Keep some money and traveler's checks in a place other than your wallet, such as a money belt.

  • When staying at a hotel, make sure that your room has a working smoke detector, and familiarize yourself with the closest stairway exits.

Are we having fun yet?

You've arrived at your destination, and you're revved up and ready to go. Before rushing off, stop and take a deep breath. Remember, the key is to enjoy yourself and not overdo it. The following suggestions can help:

  • Once you've made it to where you're going, relax. Give yourself time to unwind after traveling. Try not to make plans for the day you arrive or the day you return home.

  • Don't attempt any activity you wouldn't normally do at home. For example, if you don't get a lot of exercise, don't take a long walk or bike ride.

  • Try to have activities planned before you arrive. Make a list of things you want to do, and get information about directions, operating hours, and costs before you go.

  • To get the most from your vacation, take some time to plan ahead. You'll spend less time dealing with unexpected problems and more time seeing the sights.

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