Being an adventurous traveler is a good thing, but having health issues during your journey is not the way anyone wants to step outside their comfort zone.
Here are some tips to help you avoid getting sick when you travel:
the items a traveler needs to prepare for a trip, including a map, passport, and travel guides
Check out the websites of the CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) and the World Health Organization, both of which offer current health information for all countries, including recent outbreaks and immunisations needed. Both sites also offer advice on ways to stay healthy when you travel.
Many health care systems have travel clinics with specially trained providers. Those providers can explain immunizations needed, offer advice tailored to your destination (bring your itinerary) and prescribe medications you might need. If your insurance provider doesn’t offer a travel clinic, then make an appointment with your regular physician.
Many immunisations need to be administered several months before you leave for your trip. Other medications, such as those for malaria, need to be taken before, during and after your trip. Make sure you get an international health certificate from your doctor documenting your immunisations.
Crossing multiple time zones will throw off your biological clock which can in turn compromise your body’s immune system. You can’t completely avoid it, but you can take steps to mitigate jet lag:
There’s no getting around the fact that sharing a cramped space and recirculated air for hours at a time with a random group of strangers can be a good way to catch a bug. Your prevention options on your flight are limited, but worth pursuing:
In addition to being mindful about drinking enough fluids (it’s easy to forget when you travel), make certain the water you consume is safe to drink. Your travel research should clue you into the relative safety of a country’s water supplies. Here are some additional tips to avoid waterborne illnesses:
Experiencing the local cuisine is a great part of travel, but do so in moderation. Partly that’s to avoid subjecting your digestive system to a radical food shift. Be mindful of a few additional food risks, too, as you enjoy international cuisines:
Mosquitoes and flies transmit a variety of diseases, including malaria, yellow fever, Zika, West Nile virus, sleeping sickness and more. Ticks can also transmit a growing number of illnesses, like Lyme disease. Your initial destination research will tell you which types of insects are the primary concern. For help in selecting and applying the insect-repellent products that will be the most effective against those insects.
Few things can make you more miserable than getting severely sunburned on the first day of a vacation. Certain environments increase UV light intensity, like high altitudes or the sun’s reflection off snow and water. Your best defence is to lather up and cover up. For a primer on products to protect you from the sun.
Walking barefoot on vacation is an alluring idea, but feet can get exposed to hazards you’d rather avoid, including stings, bites and cuts. In addition, feet that are rarely exposed to the sun back home will sunburn surprisingly quickly.
While the following tips won’t help you avoid getting sick, these are some additional steps you should take when planning to travel:
Contact your medical insurance company to get details about coverage beyond your home borders. Then, if your policy has shortcomings, purchase additional coverage. Many travel insurance companies offer medical policies, and most general travel insurance policies include medical coverage among their benefits.
Do some research to see if your destination country has adequate medical facilities, and to find out if its facilities will be far away from where you’ll be in that country. Medically assisted air transport to a distant hospital (or back to your hoime.) can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. So, if you conclude that there’s a lack of modern medical facilities close at hand, be sure your insurance includes medical evacuation coverage.