Jet setting to an exotic locale for a little rest and relaxation? Vacation mode is on, so say goodbye to worries about Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses by packing the essentials and leaving your home in good condition.
The below packing list and care tips can help keep you from scrambling for vacation essentials and fend off mosquito bites.
1. EPA-approved bug repellent – a must-have. Only EPA-approved bug repellents are proven to prevent mosquito bites. Though you may consider using a plastic bag for storage, full size repellents can be packed in your checked bag, or you can find options that meet TSA regulations for your carry-on. Aedes mosquitoes, the primary transmitters of the Zika virus, bite all day, so make sure to reapply repellent according to label directions once you’re wheels down.
2. Sunscreen and shade. Choose a sunscreen with the intended use of blocking UV rays and avoid two-in-one sunscreen and bug repellent products. Apply sunscreen first, followed by EPA-approved bug repellent. Reapply both separately according to label directions, even if the sunscreen says waterproof or sweat-proof. Add a wide brimmed hat and shades for an added layer of protection for long days outside.
3. Light-colored clothing – pants & long sleeves. Beachy linen doubles as mosquito protection by covering skin that otherwise may be exposed in vacation wear. Repellent-treated clothing, treated with EPA-approved pesticides to ward off biters, could be an option if your adventure plans might get in the way of reapplying bug repellent regularly. You can also treat your own clothing with products to repel mosquitoes. Either way, remember to wash treated clothing separately from your other clothing.
4. Travel tote. Carry your day-to-night essentials in the same bag to make sure you’re never without mosquito protection. A few other must-haves to pack for your getaway: portable phone charger, headphones, beach towel and sandals.
Before you head out-of-town, knock down mosquito-friendly areas in your yard by mowing your lawn and closing all windows and doors. Check places you may least suspect such as tire swings, buckets, pet bowls and flowerpot saucers where water can collect. Keep in mind, Aedes mosquitoes can breed in the smallest amounts of standing water, even as little as a bottle cap.
Once you reach your destination, scan your room and hotel to make sure they are free of standing water and look for any other entry points such as holes in screens, windows and doors. If you notice water accumulating, ask the hotel if they have a licensed professional to treat for mosquitoes and seal any mosquito-friendly points of entry.
Want to learn more about how to prevent Zika? Check out our tips on DebugtheMyths.org.
Questioning if you should skip your flight to a destination where Zika is active? The CDC says yes, if you are, or are planning to become pregnant in the next six months. Check the CDC’s website for the latest travel information regarding Zika and other travel advisories and look for Zika-free destinations for your R&R fix.