Healthy Traveling Tips

May 21, 2012 Mary E. Lambe, MD

It’s officially summer and many of us—over 36 million Americans—have embraced international travel recently. For students and families in particular, this is the season for exciting adventures overseas. It may not be very glamorous, but, before heading off with passports in hand, how can we ensure the healthiest trip possible?

Your mother was right: plan ahead

  • Check if your health insurance goes beyond the US border. If not, it is easy to purchase a short term travel insurance policy.
  • Find out as much as you can about your destination’s health risks or dangers.
  • Most diseases are preventable. Talk it over with your doctor or see a travel doctor who specializes in such advice.
  • Be certain you have the needed vaccinations and medicines before heading out.
  • Don’t let traveler’s diarrhea cause you to miss one day of fun:
    • Drink only bottled or boiled water.
    • Eat well cooked and piping hot, never raw or undercooked meat and seafood.
    • No foods or beverages from street vendors or places with unhygienic conditions.
    • Avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables unless you peel them yourself.
    • Don't put ice in your drinks.
    • Carry specific medicine from the doctor to head off a bout of diarrhea quickly
  • Know the location of the local US embassy or consulate. If you become ill they are a great source of medical assistance. The consulate can help you contact family, and can aid in transferring funds.
  • Keep aware of risks for motor vehicle accidents; on vacation we often forget the hectic world around us.
  • Take time to appreciate the people and culture around you most of all—isn’t that why we travel in the first place? This is the highlight of your summer for you and perhaps your family; building memories of a lifetime. Planning ahead will ensure such memories are treasured and terrific.

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