Don't Let These 12 Hazards Ruin Your Summer Vacation

cheerful family showing thumbs up while sitting at the back of a SUV


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cheerful family showing thumbs up while sitting at the back of a SUV


Summer is a great time to kick back and relax, but there are many hazards that can quickly derail a family vacation ranging from food poisoning and diseases to swimming hazards and less-than-friendly wildlife Keep your trip a happy one by avoiding these 12 dangers.

typical lyme disease rash on leg while outside


Lyme disease is a condition caused by tick bites, and this year a surge in tick populations is expected. Tick bites can be prevented with the proper use of bug repellent and by wearing protective clothing in wooded areas. If you do get a tick bite, watch for a bull's-eye rash that can indicate Lyme disease. If caught early, a quick and full recovery is possible.

woman lying on sofa looking sick with stomach ache in the living room
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Norovirus is a highly contagious germ and a serious concern on cruise ships, where it can pass quickly between people in close proximity. Avoid it by washing your hands often and well. Keep hand sanitizer at the ready, and avoid touching handrails, doorknobs, and fixtures in shared bathrooms. Also, stay away from self-serve buffets, where other passengers can share their germs by coughing or sneezing.

woman on couch holding one leg with pain
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If you will be flying or sitting in a car for hours on end, you could be in danger of developing a deep vein thrombosis, or blood clot. To prevent this sometimes life-threatening condition, which is more common among older travelers, be sure to get up and walk around every two hours, don't sleep for periods longer than four hours, and drink plenty of fluids.

Great Lakes Bush Viper biting


Your best bet to avoid a snakebite is to stay away from the creatures. It sounds like common sense, but snakebites commonly occur when people try to handle a snake. If you're going to be in long grasses or among wooded debris, be sure to wear boots and long pants, and shake out your shoes before putting them on.

pickpocket stealing a mans wallet whilst walking along the street
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Falling victim to crime while traveling is frightening and frustrating, but most situations are avoidable with a bit of forethought. Remember these tips:

  • Keep your valuables concealed. Don't flash them around.
  • Don't carry all your cash and credit cards in one place. Split them up in case something happens.
  • Share your specific travel plans with others who are not traveling with you.
  • Familiarize yourself with your destination.
  • Be aware of your surroundings in general -- don't allow "vacation brain" to get the best of you to the point you let your guard down.
young woman vomiting into the toilet bowl
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Traveling often means eating foods outside of your comfort zone, especially when vacationing abroad. To avoid becoming sick from food or poor water conditions remember the following:

  • Drink bottled water.
  • Avoid ice unless it's from treated water sources.
  • Avoid fruits, vegetables and any food rinsed or cooked in untreated water.
  • Make sure the food you do eat is thoroughly cooked and very hot.
  • Do not eat food that has been kept under a warmer for long periods of time.
warning sign on beach in Pensacola, Florida
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A bad day at the beach can be tragic, so heed all warnings. Many beaches in the U.S. use a flag system to indicate dangerous swimming conditions. A double red flag means don't go in the water. One red flag means dangerous conditions, and swimmers should stay close to the shore. A yellow flag means moderate swimming conditions, and a green flag means calm waters. Also, swim only in areas monitored by lifeguards. Many times the water will be evacuated because of passing whales, sharks, stingrays, jellyfish, and such.

hands making bed of hotel room


Unfortunately bed bugs are not a thing of the past. They've made a comeback, and travelers need to be on the lookout. When you arrive at your destination, be sure to place your belongings on a luggage rack or bathroom counter and inspect your room prior to unpacking. Check the mattress, behind the headboard, and in the creases of fabrics in the room for the small reddish-brown insects.

man with reddened, itchy skin after sunburn


One major vacation buzz kill is sunburn, which can last several days and even cause lasting harm. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just 15 minutes of sun exposure can damage your skin. The good news: It's easily preventable. Wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 (but the higher, the better). Reapply after two hours and after swimming or sweating. Wear protective clothing, such as long sleeves and a hat. (Check out these 16 cheap-but-effective sunscreens.)

woman spraying insect repellent against bug bites on legs in the woods


Zika virus disease is caused primarily by bites from mosquitos carrying the germ. It can cause severe birth defects in fetuses of pregnant women and Guillain-Barré syndrome. The CDC has issued guidance about travel to the Miami and Brownsville, Texas, areas, but travelers should check for updates before heading anywhere -- especially outside of the U.S. The best way to protect against Zika is to avoid mosquito bites. Wear an EPA-approved mosquito repellant, and wear protective clothing. The CDC has a helpful page dedicated to Zika.

Malarone anti-malarial tablets
Brendan Howard/shutterstock


Much like Zika, malaria is spread through mosquito bites. It is found in tropical and subtropical areas. Again the best prevention is to avoid getting mosquito bites. Using insect spray, wearing protective clothing, and taking malaria-prevention tablets are all ways to avoid contracting the potentially deadly disease.

alligator laying on edge of river
Arto Hakola/shutterstock


If you're traveling to Florida or other places in the South, you might see alligators. It is best to avoid them entirely or at least keep a safe distance. Alligators feed mostly from sunset until dawn, so stay away from freshwater lakes, ponds, and canals during those times. Don't feed alligators. If you do see one, be on the lookout for its mate. If you are attacked, run, fight back, and make a lot of noise.