Holiday travel trouble shooting

Four common risks to your health and safety this holiday season – and how to avoid them.

– Blend into the crowd. Flashy jewelry and obvious designer labels attract unwanted attention.

– Pack valuables and other important items (such as medication and electronic equipment) in your carry-on luggage, and consider luggage locks for your checked items.

– Make a list of what you have packed in case you need to file a claim for lost or stolen luggage.

– Keep your wits about you. People who appear intoxicated, disoriented and exhausted are easier to target.

Health risks
Many people neglect their health over the holidays, but an illness or emergency can put a damper on your holiday plans.

Avoid it:
– Learn about health issues for your destination and how to prevent them. Many travellers neglect to take appropriate precautions when visiting loved ones abroad. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) have country-specific information about vaccinations and other preventative measures.

– Wash your hands. It’s still the best way to prevent spreading illnesses. Travel wipes and a bottle of hand sanitizer should be part of your travel pack.

– Stick to your daily regime. If you are on a restricted diet (e.g. for a heart condition or diabetes) allow yourself a treat but overindulging can lead health complications.

– Eat right. Food poisoning is common problem both home and away. Avoid lukewarm foods if they should be hot or kept cool. Stick to beverages that come in sealed bottles or cans (and skip the ice cubes) if you have concerns about water quality.

– Don’t hesitate to get help. A recent article on ABC News on avoiding holiday injuries notes that many people put off a visit to the hospital so they won’t disrupt a family gathering, and risk getting worse.

– Get medical insurance if you’re travelling out of the province or country (even if it’s just for the day). A case of food poisoning or a car accident could net thousands in medical bills.

Weather warnings
Severe weather can affect your plans regardless of how you travel, causing power outages, dangerous road conditions and flight delays or cancellations.

Avoid it:
– Stay informed of potential problems: the sooner you know about a watch or warning, the more time you will have to make alternate arrangements if necessary. Look to local TV and radio stations for local warnings.

– Turn to the web: Most governments offer a national weather service which provides the latest information online. If you’re not sure where to look, the World Meteorological Organization’s World Weather Information Service offers both international forecasts and points you to the local meteorological service.

– Take advantage of online distribution. Many weather websites offer free services such as RSS feeds, email and desktop alerts.

– Think ahead. Call to confirm your flight or other travel arrangements, and know whom to contact if you need to make alternate plans.