Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, the last thing you need is to get sick. It is important to remember that there are many other diseases in the world that can also make you very ill. Taking some precautions before you leave and while you’re at your destination will help prevent a ruined trip.
Before you leave
- Talk to your doctor about how you can stay healthy and if there are any special precautions you should take if you have any medical issues.
- Check your vaccinations. Depending on where you’re going, you may need to have additional vaccinations for protection from certain diseases endemic to that area.
- Check to see if you need any special medications for the area, such as anti-malarial medications.
- Check with your health insurance provider to ensure you’re covered for care outside of the United States, and don’t forget to bring your insurance cards. You may also want to check with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at your destination for any suggestions.
- Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) travel site for the latest information on travel alerts. Check BEFORE you travel!
- Insect repellent if you’ll be spending time outdoors. Preventing insect bites is an easy way to avoid pesky annoyances and insect-borne diseases.
- Long sleeves, layered clothing, and long pants can also protect you against bug bites. If you are in an area known to have ticks, make sure to check clothing and body for ticks throughout the day. Packing weather-appropriate clothing will help minimize the risk of climate-induced illnesses or conditions, such as heat exhaustion or frost bite.
- Hand sanitizer! Keeping your hands clean is the most effective and proven way to prevent infection. Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer if sinks are unavailable.
- First aid kit along with preventative medications. Band-Aids or gauze and tape can help keep wounds clean and protected. Medications for travel should include fever or pain relief, upset stomach or diarrhea, motion sickness, allergies, and destination-related illnesses (altitude sickness or malaria).
- All of your normal medications. Make sure to keep them in their original containers, especially if they are prescription medications.
- Contact information for emergencies. This includes phone numbers for your physician, insurance company, and an emergency contact who is not traveling with you.
During your trip
- Avoid injuries. Remember “Safety First” when traveling. Pay attention to your environment. Wear appropriate attire/footwear for the activity. Be particularly attentive to animals. They could be unfamiliar and may not react the way you think they will.
- Choose food and beverages wisely. Carefully select food and beverages for consumption as this will minimize the risk for acquiring traveler’s diarrhea. Research where you’re traveling and know if there are any risks for certain foods/beverages. It is generally a good idea to drink beverages that are bottled and sealed. Risky foods include raw or undercooked meats and seafood, and unpeeled, raw fruits and vegetables. If it doesn’t look good or you’re unsure of what it is, don’t eat it.
- Avoid contact with people who are ill. Respiratory illnesses have become almost as common as traveler’s diarrhea. Pay attention to crowds and avoid close contact with other individuals. And remember that keeping your hands clean will help you stay healthy.