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Staying Healthy While You Travel

Preventing illness or injury is a big part of making your trip relaxing and enjoyable. It's important to take certain precautions. Some destinations are very different from where you live. Also, travel to developing countries poses certain extra risks. 

Healthy preparations before you travel

If you are planning to travel outside the U.S., the CDC recommends that you:

  • Prepare a complete travel itinerary. List each destination, length of stay, and types of activities planned.

  • Contact your travel agent to get local health information. This should include food and beverage precautions, information about insects and other pests, and the availability of emergency medical care.

  • Check with your insurance company to see what coverage your policy provides for travel abroad.

  • Consider travel insurance and medical evacuation insurance.  

  • Contact your healthcare provider for an up-to-date immunization record. Make an appointment to get needed vaccines at least 6 weeks before you plan to leave.

  • Get specific information on preventive health recommendations for your destination. Visit the CDC's Travel Information.

  • Identify contact information for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country or countries you will be visiting for help in case of a medical emergency.  

Be sure to also get prescription medicines refilled to last the entire trip. Take extra prescriptions for medicines and eyewear, in case you need to have them filled while abroad. Wear a medical ID bracelet, if needed. Also, take along a first aid kit for minor emergencies.

Healthy reminders for while you are traveling

Eat with care if traveling to a country with an increased risk of traveler's diarrhea. According to the CDC, travelers' diarrhea is the most predictable travel-related illness. Here are some tips to try to avoid it:

  • Eat foods that are steaming hot and well-cooked. These are usually the safest.

  • Don't eat foods from street vendors, no matter how tasty they look.

  • Don't eat or drink unpasteurized dairy products or raw or uncooked seafood.

  • Peel fruits yourself.

  • Drink commercially bottled water or carbonated beverages.

  • Don't use ice.

  • Use bottled water when brushing your teeth.

If you are traveling to a country with a risk of malaria, get a prescription for preventive medicine for this disease from your healthcare provider. The medicine needs to be taken before you go on your trip, during your travels, and for a certain number of days after you return, depending on the type of medicine prescribed.

Don't swim and any water activities in freshwater lakes and streams as you may be exposed to certain diseases. If you are traveling to a country with an increased risk of disease transmitted by mosquitoes, such as malaria or yellow fever, be sure to protect yourself with insect repellents, special clothing, and bed nets.

Online Medical Reviewer: Barry Zingman MD
Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Wanda Taylor RN PhD
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2019
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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