How to avoid getting sick while at Disney

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This is on the eve of the illness…before the diarrhea and vomiting started.

Ahhh…the perfect vacation (we all know my perfect vacation means being at Disney or cruising with them.)  We all plan for it, save for it, count down for it, and think this is going to be the best vacation yet.  However sometimes an illness rears it’s ugly head and rains on your Disney parade.

I unfortunately experienced this first hand in October 2011.  It literally was the worst trip and experience of my life.  My son was 16 months old, I was 6 months pregnant…we flew in to Disney on a Wednesday and had to fly home that Friday…yes 2 days later because of a horrible stomach flu that left both my son and I so sick we both ended up in the hospital severely dehydrated. We both had never been so sick in our lives.  I wished that I would have taken some extra precautions because maybe if I would have followed some of the advice that I am going to give you this whole thing could have been avoided!

  • Wash your hands:  O.K. I know this sounds so simple but do we really do it enough?  We live in a hand sanitizer society…we always think that by using hand sanitizer we are erasing all of the germs on our hands but are we really?  Some research is showing that bacteria is actually becoming immune due to overuse of sanitizer.  The number one way to erase and prevent the spread of germs is by good old fashioned hand washing…and not just for 2 seconds.  According to the Mayo clinic you must wash your hands VIGOROUSLY for AT LEAST 20 seconds.  To help your kids accomplish this (and even yourself) you can sing your ABC’s twice.  You should wash your hands IMMEDIATELY after exiting your airplane (and airplane is a cest pool of germs), before touching or eating food, before taking/giving medications, immediately upon entering your hotel room (before you start touching your bed, the phone, tv remote, etc.), after using the washroom or changing a diaper, after blowing your nose or sneezing in your hands, and whenever visibly soiled.  I also bring a pump antibacterial soap from home to use in our hotel room instead of the bar soap that is provided.  Ok this may sound extreme but it truly is the easiest and most simple way to avoid getting sick.  Hand sanitizer does also help but I always recommend washing your hands as often as possible especially before eating.
  • Cleaning:  I always bring travel size Lysol wipes with me when I travel.  We always fly Southwest and they have leather seats.  My husband tells me I look like a maniac but I always wipe down our plane seats, arm rests, and tray table.  Once we arrive at the hotel I use the Lysol wipes to wipe down the remote, telephone, inside of doorknobs (including the bathroom), alarm clock and the handle on the toilet.  It honestly only takes a few minutes but it give me peace of mind that I am preventing my family from getting sick.
  • Sleep:  If you normally sleep for 8 hours at home and your kids nap for 2…do the same thing at Disney.  It is so easy to go, go, go, that we forget our body needs rest.  If we suddenly shake up our routines and forget to sleep…you are running your immune system into the ground opening the door for a bug to get into your system and make you sick.
  • Water:  I know I am so excited to be in Disney and take in all that there is to see and do that I literally take off skipping down Main St. USA.  Just imagine doing that all day every day and only having a few sips of water.  You will need more than your normal 8 eight ounce glasses of water in a day especially if you are visiting in the hot summer months.  You can use a service such as garden grocer to deliver a case or two of bottled water to your hotel room for your arrival (you are allowed to take your own water into the park), bottled water is always readily available for purchase throughout all of the parks, and you can always walk into a counter service restaurant and ask for a cup of water.  If you don’t like the taste of water you can always bring along a crystal light package to add to the bottle or drink some gatorade, but keep in mind that often times these are loaded with sugar.
  • Healthy Choices:  I like most love to eat my Dole Whip, Egg rolls, fried dough, (and the list could go on and on) but Disney does provide many healthy options and they make it easy to choose too!  Choosing to eat fruit and vegetables (in addition to your other snacks) affords your body with extra healthy nutrients.  If your driving in, stopping at the local grocery store on your way into town, or using Garden Grocer you can also pick up healthy snacks to take into the park with you.
  • Traveling with a baby:  I bring the bottles that have the inserts in them (you will need extra drop ins), enough nipples for an entire day, a bunch of pacifiers, and 2 quart sized ziploc bags for each day, I also bring disposable sippy cups, a brand new bottle brush, travel antibacterial dish soap, and one of those cheap wash basins I put my clothes in there so we don’t waste room in the suitcase.  At the start of a new day in one of the ziploc bag I put the clean nipples (enough for a whole day at the park) and the other is for dirty (I also label so I don’t get confused).  Every bottle that the kids drink gets a CLEAN nipple and a new drop in.  The dirty nipple goes in the dirty bag and the liner in the garbage.  If a Pacifier is dropped we do not wipe it we give a new one (we also put pacifiers on strings that attach to the clothes.)  At the end of the day once back at our hotel room I wash with hot soapy water all of the bottles (I usually only need 2 to get through the day thanks to the drop ins), all of the nipples and pacifiers.  I then get the hot water that is used for tea in the food courts and let the nipples and pacifiers sit in the hot water for 5 minutes.  It isn’t the same as sanitizing but I feel the water is so hot that it helps!  If you are in a villa or vacation home then your in luck because there is at least a microwave so all that you will need is those cool bags that you can use to sanitize the nipples and pacifiers.
  • Vitamins or Airborne: Maybe you want to consider taking a daily multivitamin or some airborne (per directions) before and/or during your trip. ****Disclaimer:  Please consult your physician before starting to take any vitamin or medication even if it is over the counter***

If all else fails and you do get sick Disney has help for you.  You can always call the front desk for help and they will be happy to direct you to the nearest drug store, urgent care center, hospital, or even put out a call for a doctor to come visit you right in your hotel room (yes this does happen!)  Also if in the parks check out the first aid stations!  A nurse is always on duty.  If it is an emergency find the nearest cast member and they will call for immediate help.  Always make sure to travel with your insurance card!

Chip and Co Past Writers and Friends
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