Hamburgers. French fries. Deep-fried chicken.
It’s easy to understand why many consider the United States to be an unhealthy travel destination—the food options and often-idle habits of Americans don’t exactly allow people to have faith in the options that will be available to them when visiting the country.
However, the movements for local and fresh food and maintaining a healthy lifestyle make it easier for visitors to eat well and get the exercise they need. Additionally, most travelers won’t have to take extra precaution against diseases such as malaria or hepatitis, and they’ll have access to quality healthcare in case something does go awry.
Here’s what you should know:
Fortunately, there are no requirements for major vaccinations when traveling to the U.S., but outbreaks, such as H1N1 have been known to occur, so do your research before you leave.
If there is an emergency and you do need medical care, however, it should be of some consolation to know that the hospitals and clinics are generally of a high standard and are regulated by local, state, and federal governing agencies. Care is provided by doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners, and patients can expect the traditional, medical-oriented practices typical to Western culture. You may want to consider travel insurance, however, as hospital and doctor fees can be costly.
Although America is infamous for its fast food and high obesity rates, the food and water is generally safe to eat and drink and is regulated by city, state, and federal health agencies. You should, however, be smart when choosing what to eat and how much. Food portions served at American restaurants are known to be larger than what you might be used to at home, so practice healthy eating habits during your trip. You can try small portions of less healthy American staples, such as burgers and French fries, but do so in moderation. With that said, there are plenty of healthy options available at most restaurants. Additionally, those with dietary restrictions will also be able to find something to eat in most major cities.
Be sure to take advantage of local parks and your hotel gym (if available). Walk or bike instead of drive whenever you can, and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Although the U.S. has a reputation of being inactive, there are plenty of opportunities for you to get moving.
Although there are no specific safety risks associated with traveling to the U.S., security is heightened in areas such as airports. Be sure to look for any travel advisories posted by your government agency before you leave. As with any destination you travel to, be sure to use common sense and take basic safety precautions.
Image courtesy of moreinterest.org.