The key to enjoying one’s dive vacation is to stay healthy during the trip. Ten pointers for taking care of one’s health during a dive vacation are offered. Among these are bringing one’s own water bottle, reducing alcohol intake and eating light meals.

The success (or failure) of your dive vacation depends largely on staying healthy during the trip. You’ve paid a lot of money and traveled a long distance to dive in paradise. The worst thing that could happen is that you find yourself unable to enjoy the diving because of a cold, intestinal problem or injury. Here are ten hints for taking care of number one.

1 BRING A WATER BOTTLE: Take along your own plastic water bottle, such as the type that contains Evian or Glaceau. Refill it often but only with purified water you know is safe. In some countries and on some islands you can purchase your own Supply of bottled mineral water or mountain spring water. Drink at least two quarts or more a day – you are in the tropics.

2 WEAR A BROAD BRIMMED HAT: Protect the top of your head, tips of your ears, nose and face from sunburn by wearing a broad brimmed hat. Select a lightweight, all weather hat that is waterproof, wrinkle proof and easy to pack.

3 WEAR UV PROOF SUNGLASSES: Protect your eyes by wearing a professional pair of sunglasses – ones fitted with optical glass or plastic that protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays. It also helps to have Polaroid sunglasses, as these will enable you to see into the water and spot coral heads, shipwrecks, etc.

4 APPLY LOTS OF SUNSCREEN: Apply a liberal coating of sunscreen to protect your skin from the extra powerful rays of the equatorial sun. Select a powerful sunscreen with an SPF rating of 25 or 36. Apply sunscreen frequently, as diving, sweating or ocean spray will wash it off.

5 MINIMIZE ALCOHOL INTAKE: If possible, abstain from drinking any alcoholic beverages or at least reduce your intake to a minimum. You will sleep better, feel better, be less dehydrated and be less likely to get seasick.

6 BRING YOUR OWN SNACKS: If YOU like to snack between meals, pack your own snacks. You may wish to bring along your favorite pretzels, crackers, cookies, trail mix or whatever. Separate and pack each day’s supply in a self-seal plastic bag to keep it fresh and dry. Having a small snack after coming up from a dive can really hit the spot.

7 CARRY YOUR OWN FIRST AID KIT: Pack a personal first aid kit – a small waterproof container for the essentials. You might want to include adhesive bandages, topical antiseptic, an antibiotic cream and perhaps aloe for sunburn relief. You should also include common over the counter drugs, such as aspirin, decongestant, antihistamine, antacid and motion sickness and diarrhea remedies, etc.

8 EAT LIGHT MEALS DURING TRAVEL: Traveling divers often encounter gastro-intestinal problems or sea sickness owing to overeating or eating overly rich foods. During travel try to eat small portions of low fat, high carbohydrate foods.

9 ALWAYS WEAR SHOES: Bring along a pair of hardsoled shoes for island tours, walks on the beach or climbing over rocks. Never walk barefoot if you can help it. The high humidity of the tropics can transform the slightest cut or puncture into a nasty infection.

10 AVOID LAND TOURS DURING MID-DAY HEAT: Many of today’s dive vacation packages provide spare time prior to or at the end of the diving schedule. This is when many divers get to see the local sights. Schedule your land tours during the cool part of the day-either early mornings or late afternoons. Avoid any strenuous exertion during the midday heat, as it will leave you totally exhausted.

11 GET PLENTY OF SLEEP: Fatigue is the number two (dehydration is number one) cause of many illnesses suffered by travelers. And, fatigue can be a contributing factor for decompression sickness. Make sure you get a full eight hours of sleep every night – more if you need it. Also, take short naps (in the shade) between dives, particularly if the diving is strenuous.

12 CHECK THE MEDICAL ADVISORY FOR YOUR INTENDED DESTINATION: If you are planning a dive vacation outside the continental U.S., check the recent medical advisory for that region. Some areas of the world experience epidemics or chronic conditions, such as malaria, dengue fever, hepatitis and so on. Do not depend on the tourist board or resort brochure for this information. Instead, go to the source by contacting the Public Health Service.

Make every day of your dive trip count. Be fit, stay healthy and enjoy!

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