This is part of a short series of articles that I have written on travel. I have always thought that one of the best ways to improve your health is by staying active and challenging yourself to do new things. International travel just happens to fit those criteria perfectly. So get on a boat or an airplane, start traveling, and enjoy all the health benefits that it brings!
International travel is a commonplace occurrence; whether for leisure, business, or study, more people are engaging transcontinental transportation and reaping the benefits of it. While advances in transportation technology can make it easier than ever to travel, it’s important to prepare for any journey as thoroughly as possible, to guard against illness and injury. Read the following tips to learn how to stay healthy while traveling abroad.
The successful planning of an international trip requires more than just the creation of itineraries. To be truly prepared, you’ll have to have contingency plans ready for unexpected events, including accidents and illnesses. Some of the best prep work you can do involves researching your destination and getting health check-ups before you leave. You should also consider any special needs that you may have, including traveling with kids, being pregnant, or managing disabilities.
- Research the region to which you will travel.
- Get health check-ups from primary care physicians and dentists before you leave.
- Assess your health honestly.
- Consider whether any preexisting conditions or illnesses make it dangerous for you to travel. Talk to your primary care physician.
- Allot adequate time, energy, and other resources to meet special needs. For example, if you’re pregnant, disabled, or are traveling with children, you may require extra assistance.
- 80 Things We Wish We Knew Before We Started Traveling: CNN features an article written by a world traveler. He offers practical and social advice for those who intend to travel abroad.
- Medical Check-up: Johnson & Wales University provides a short medical and health check-up list for students traveling abroad.
- Have a Dental Checkup Before You Travel (PDF): The American Dental Association details the reasons why having a dental checkup before traveling is imperative, especially when spending time in developing countries.
- International Travel: Ohio State University provides a page devoted to tips for those traveling for business and education.
- Traveling With Children and Infants: American Airlines shares its protocols and procedures for transporting young kids.
- Pregnancy and Travel: The American Pregnancy Association lists considerations for pregnant travelers here.
- Foreign Travel for Disabled People: This page contains numerous tips for people with disabilities who want to travel abroad.
- 7 Tips for Foreign Business Travel: Here, you ‘ll find several tips that will help prepare you for a business trip. The subjects of etiquette, cultures and itineraries are discussed.
Illness and injury can strike at any time. Unfortunately, these events can also occur during trips and can be a major setback. Smart travel preparation requires that you anticipate anything that could go wrong, health-wise or otherwise, and have ideas about how to cope with sickness and accidents. Much of this preparation involves readying medications and first aid kits, and knowing what to do, if you find yourself sick while overseas.
- Pack all necessary health items and medicines to ensure an illness-free trip.
- Consider the real possibility of getting sick while overseas.
- Have back-up plans in place, in case you become ill or have an accident overseas.
- Know what information to present and share with others who can expedite the process of treatment and the return to your home country, should the illness or injury be serious.
- How to Take Prescription Drugs on International Flights: USA Today discusses easy ways to prepare and handle prescription medications while traveling abroad.
- Medications and International Travel: Mobility International USA provides medication resources and information for overseas travelers with disabilities.
- Stay Healthy When You Travel: HealthFinder demystifies various illness and injury scenarios that can be experienced abroad, and advises readers on what to do, should they experience them.
- International Travel: Tips for Staying Healthy: Family Doctor discusses travel preparation tips for the health-conscious. Common vaccinations are listed, along with advice on what to include in a first aid kit.
- Travel Medicine: Preparing for Your Trip: Palo Alto Medical Foundation lists international travel considerations for people who have chronic illnesses. Advice for those who suffer health emergencies overseas is also provided.
- How to Assemble the Perfect Travel First Aid Kit: Dr. Erik McLaughlin discusses how to put together the very best first aid kits, depending on your travel destination, length of stay, and existing medical conditions.
- What Happens When You Get Sick Overseas: Fox Business details how to prepare for illnesses and injuries that take place abroad. The article also differentiates between regular insurance and medical travelers’ insurance.
- Air Travel and Children: Here, parents and guardians are educated on how to prepare children for air travel. Solutions to common health problems that kids experience while in the air are also offered.
Returning after an overseas trip without sniffling or sneezing does not necessarily guarantee a clean bill of health. Some illnesses may take a few extra days to incubate and will have you exhibiting symptoms long after you’ve left its country of origin. It is prudent to listen to your body upon your return home. Stay on top of clues that tell you that your body may be fighting an infection, illness, or injury.
- Note how your body reacts to the food and environment of your destination.
- Protect your skin from sun and pests.
- Practice safe food and water consumption habits.
- Be cautious.
- Avoid drinking excessive alcohol.
- Use seat belts on every available method of transport.
- Make use of protective gear when participating in outdoor activities.
- Know your destination’s local laws, etiquette and customs.
- Respect your body’s signals of illness or injury, if you experience them when you come home.
- Travel Medicine: Helping Patients Prepare for Tips Abroad: American Family Physician lists common illnesses that international travelers experience, and offers ways in which they can avoid and treat them. Assessment advice is also provided to help individuals determine if they can safely travel with minimal health risk.
- Country-specific Information: The U.S. Department of State gives citizens information about current health and medical conditions that they should be aware of, when traveling to particular destinations. This list may help you prepare for specific health threats.
- Vaccine for International Travel: Oklahoma’s State Department of Health lists several resources about required and recommended vaccines that should be obtained before traveling.
- What Should You Know Before Going on Spring Break? (PDF): This pamphlet provided by the North Dakota Department of Health teaches students how to prepare for international travel to popular spring break locations. Tips for food safety are included.
- Travel Safety Tips: Five College Consortium gives readers a detailed checklist for travel preparation. Several sections are devoted to security and transportation concerns.
- Travel Etiquette in the World’s Most-visited Countries: This is a quick primer that introduces readers to common customs of different countries.
- A Guide on Safe Food for Travelers (PDF): The World Health Organization offers a pamphlet to help readers avoid diarrhea and other food-related illnesses while traveling. The information provided can be especially useful to help protect children and women from food-borne illnesses.
- What’s the Best Sunscreen?: WebMD helps readers understand the different components of sunscreen, and offers advice on how to choose the best one.