It’s springtime and for many people that means vacation time! Unfortunately, just because you’ve set some time aside to relax and have fun doesn’t mean that you can forget about the health risks that come with traveling abroad. With some preparation, you can stay safe and healthy while enjoying your vacation. Below are the first five tips of 11 that will help you with your vacation planning:
1) Four to six weeks ahead of your scheduled departure, you should get essential background information on your travel destination by talking to your doctor, contacting your local health department, and/or going to http://www.cdc.gov/travel/destinat.htm. You need to find out the current health situation in the country that you’re planning on traveling to, including info on any recent outbreaks that have occurred and what ongoing disease concerns may be present (e.g. yellow fever, malaria, hepatitis C, etc.).
2) Find out what vaccinations might be either recommended or required for the country that you’re planning to visit. For example, if you are planning a trip to Brazil, it’s recommended that you get several vaccines, including one for typhoid, but it’s required that you get a shot for yellow fever. You might even need a certificate to enter some areas of the world where yellow fever is a real problem. It’s always recommended that you ensure you’re up-to-date on your routine vaccinations before traveling abroad. In addition, you might sometimes need to take a preventive drug to stay protected from certain diseases (e.g. malaria) when traveling. Check with your doctor six weeks ahead of your trip to discuss any vaccinations you may need to take.
3) Find out what precautions you might need to take when you are in a specific country. For example, in areas where mosquito-borne diseases are a problem, you’ll need protective clothing, DEET insect repellant, a bed net, etc.
4) Make sure you find out what medical services your health insurance covers when you’re out of the country. You might also want to consider buying some extra coverage for your trip. Make absolutely sure that you have your important health documents with you at all times, such as your claim forms, insurance policy card, etc.
5) If you have an existing medical condition, make sure you plan ahead for it. Bring any medications or equipment you might need. Also scout out information on the local medical clinics or hospitals before you go away. Discuss any special needs with the airline, hotel, or tour operators ahead of time and get confirmation just before leaving. If you’re diabetic, have severe allergies, etc., then you should always wear a medic alert bracelet. Note that you should never travel alone if you have a serious health condition.
Tomorrow, I will cover six more must-have travel health tips!