Decongestant, check. Sunscreen, check. Antacids, check. So you’re going on vacation and your bag is well-stocked with remedies for every illness that could possibly derail your good time – from sunburn to an upset stomach. While you’re taking steps to preserve your good health on vacation, don’t overlook the body part that will carry you through all that fun: Your feet.
“Foot health is especially important for travelers,” says Dr. Joseph Caporusso, a podiatrist and president of the American Podiatric Medical Association. “If your feet hurt or you sustain an ankle injury, your whole vacation can be ruined. Plus, poor foot health can have a long-term detrimental effect on your overall well-being.”
The approach of warm weather means more Americans will be planning their spring and summer getaways. Before you step out on vacation, APMA offers a few foot health tips for travelers:
On the way
Whether you’re flying or driving to your destination, proper footwear is important. Knowing you’ll have to remove your shoes to pass through airport security screening may tempt you to travel in flip-flops or other footwear that’s easy to slip off. But travelers should not forego safety and support for convenience.
“Flip-flops are never a great walking shoe, and if you have to walk long distances from gate to gate or from your gate to ground transportation, or if you have to hurry, flip-flops could lead to problems,” Caporusso says.
What’s more, flip-flops mean you’ll be barefoot when you step through security – and that can leave your feet exposed to injury from sharp edges, uneven surfaces and germs. If shoes with laces will be too inconvenient for security lines, choose comfortable slip-ons that provide a thick, stable sole. And always wear socks through security.
Drivers also need to be aware of proper footwear on the road. Choose comfortable footwear that minimizes the risk of your foot slipping off a pedal. Never kick off your shoes while driving either; a shoe lodged under the brake pedal could interfere with your ability to stop quickly in an emergency.
On the beach
For many Americans, spring and summer vacations mean time spent on the beach. Whether you’re relaxing in a lounge chair, walking on hot sand or frolicking in the surf, it’s important to protect your feet from the singular risks of beach time.
Since most people wear flip-flops or sandals on the beach, don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your feet. Be sure to cover the tops of your feet, the front of your ankles, and even the soles. Limit the amount of walking you do in bare feet; walking in no shoes at all increases your exposure to sunburn, plantar warts, athlete’s foot, ringworm, other infections and even injury. Never walk barefoot in pool areas or locker rooms.
Always pack an extra pair of sneakers or water shoes so that if your shoes get wet you can have a dry pair. Wearing wet shoes for prolonged periods may lead to bacteria or fungal growth.
On the move
Sometimes, no matter how careful you are, injuries happen. Wherever your vacation takes you, it pays to pack a foot care bag so that you’ll be prepared to treat minor problems that can quickly evolve into major vacation setbacks. Your bag should include: Sterile bandages for covering minor cuts and scrapes; Antibiotic cream to treat minor skin injuries; Emollient-enriched moisturizer to keep feet hydrated; Blister pads or moleskins to prevent blisters and protect sore feet if blisters do form; An anti-inflammatory pain reliever like Motrin or Advil to ease tired, swollen feet; Nail clippers; Emery board in case of broken nails or rough edges; Sunscreen to prevent sunburn and Aloe vera or a similar cream to relieve sunburn.
In case of a serious problem, seek the aid of a podiatrist – doctors who are specially trained to diagnose and treat ailments of the feet and lower extremities. You can find a podiatrist in your area by visiting APMA’s website, www.apma.org.
“No one wants to spend their vacation with sore feet – or worse yet, at the doctor’s office,” Caporusso says. “Taking care of your feet while traveling can help ensure your vacation stays on track and the only things you bring home are great memories and souvenirs.”