Theme park vacations are tons of fun, but they can be spoiled in an instant once someone in your party gets the sniffles. Nothing ruins a good vacation like having to stay in the hotel tending to a sick and miserable child, or trying to enjoy the rides when your head is pounding from a cold. Nor is it terribly fun to return home from a trip and find yourself sick, especially if returning involves extensive travel.
In order to keep yourself and your family healthy and happy on your trip, keep these simple guidelines in mind:
Interactive objects are germ central
While interactive objects are certainly entertaining, they’re also entertaining to every other person – and any germs they might be carrying.
Anybody who touches the object before you may be leaving their own germs behind. While this holds true for most features around the parks, anything that’s interactive (the toggles and switches in Transformers: The Ride, some of the games in the Disney queues, etc.) will be especially germy, as they actively encourage people to play with them.
Since suggesting that you don’t touch them is probably futile, as they are often very fun and hard to resist, I’d suggest that you pack plenty of hand sanitizer so that you at least kill 99.9% of the germs you pick up. There’s no need to use it after every single thing you touch – as long as you do so before you touch your face.
Hand sanitizer is your friend
Not only is hand sanitizer good for sterilizing your hands after touching any of the interactive objects, it’s also good for pretty much any other situation. Ride restraints pack plenty of germs and so do hand rails, along with, really, anything else you might come into contact with around the parks. Children especially like to touch things, so keep an eye on them and give them a squirt of sanitizer any time they’ve had their hands on a lot of objects.
If you’re not a fan of the liquid form, you can also bring wipes, which work equally well and, sometimes, even better, such as with stroller handles.
So is vitamin C
Products like Airborne and Emergen-C are packed with vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals to help boost your immune system and stave off sickness. I’d recommend taking some sort of vitamin C supplement at least once a day to help prevent anything from coming on. And if you do start to feel sick, it can help to take as much vitamin C as you can as frequently as possible to help kick the cold quickly.
I’ve also found that the vitamin C supplements help to boost my energy levels, which certainly doesn’t hurt during a long day in the parks!
Please wash your hands before returning to your vacation
While advice as simple as washing your hands should be well practiced, I still watch people leave the bathrooms without doing so. Even if it’s not something you usually do at home, the parks likely carry far more germs than what you experience back home and, very possibly, some that you’ve never been exposed to before.
Bathrooms are just pretty gross, in general, so I highly advise that you wash your hands anytime you enter them, and to touch as little as possible while in them. Also, washing your hands before and after you eat is definitely a good habit to get into, especially at the parks, so that you don’t ingest any germs you picked up before the meal or take any away from the table.
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Sleep is actually important
While sleep may be the last thing on your agenda during your vacation, not getting enough can lower your immune system and make you more susceptible to any germs you may encounter during the day.
Drink plenty of water
Water will help to flush out anything you might pick up and to keep your immune system functioning in top form to prevent you from getting sick. Plus, it keeps you hydrated so that you don’t pass out, which is equally unpleasant.
There is bottle water available for purchase around the parks, and you can also bring in your own or, of course, just use any of the water fountains, including the Coke Freestyle machines at Universal (want to learn more about how the Coke Freestyle and refillable cup programs work? Check out our complete guide).
Keep in mind that soda, Butterbeer, and alcoholic beverages are not the same as water, so make sure you drink some plain old H2O along with your other delicious beverages.
Beware of weather
The elements really can be out to get you, so it’s best to keep the daily weather in mind before you head out. In the summer, make sure to put on sunscreen frequently, as studies show that being sunburnt can lower your immune system (and it’s just plain unpleasant, anyway). You should also, once again, drink plenty of water and try to keep to the shade in the middle of the day to prevent heatstroke or dehydration.
If it’s rainy, try to keep dry, as walking around while you’re damp and cold could possibly get you sick. And, in the winter, make sure you dress in layers, as well, so that you don’t get a chill in the evening.
First-aid and baby care stations
Even if you don’t think you’ll ever need the assistance, it’s still a good idea to learn where each park’s first-aid station and baby care facilities are. Not only do they offer basic medicinal needs (for example, a free band-aid), but they also usually have extra seating space for weary guests. You should be able to find both of these labeled on any park guidemap.
In short, while the theme parks carry lots of germs, there are plenty of preventative measures you and your family can take to help ensure that you won’t return with a very unpleasant souvenir from your Orlando vacation.
Have other tips to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below.