Traveling is an exciting part of summer. Getting to see new places or visiting friends and family is an excellent way to spend your vacation. However, taking the proper precautions before you travel internationally is necessary. There are unique health risks involved in visiting other countries, so you should be prepared for any type of medical issues that may occur. Here are five things to remember before you travel this summer.
1. Have a Health Screening
Before you leave for your trip, visit a travel clinic or your family doctor 4-6 weeks before you leave. They will check you out to make sure you are healthy enough to travel. Make sure you give your doctor a full medical history and list any medications you may take. You may need to get an extra refill for any prescription medications you take daily. It is a good idea to get a copy of any prescriptions and a letter from your doctor to keep with you as travel.
2. Get Your Vaccines
You must be up to date on all of your vaccinations before you leave the country. Routine vaccines include MMR (measles-mumps-rubella), chicken pox, polio, and diptheria-tetanus-pertussis, plus a yearly flu shot. Depending on what country you are traveling to, you may also need to get a Hepatitis A, typhoid, rabies, polio booster or yellow fever shot. Be sure to schedule your appointment to get vaccinated 4-6 weeks before your trip because some vaccines take a few weeks before they begin working.
3. Buy Preventative Medications
If you are going to a country that has a risk of malaria, you may need to take malaria pills in addition to the previous vaccines. These should be taken before, during and after your trip and require a prescription from your doctor. You should also pack any over the counter medication that you normally use. These include pain medicine, anti-nausea and anti-diarrhea medications, antibiotic ointment, antihistamines and motion sickness medication. Keep these in their original containers so you can easily identify them when you start to feel ill.
4. Pack Sunscreen
Be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen for your trip. Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before you go outside and then reapply every 2 hours. You may need to use more if you get wet or are very sweaty. Bringing a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses is also recommended for anyone who will be outside for long periods of time. The best clothing for sun protection are light, long sleeve shirts and pants. You can also minimize sun damage by taking regular breaks in shaded areas.
5. Learn about Food and Water Conditions
While you should be adventurous and enjoy local cuisine, use caution before eating or drinking anything. Avoid any food that is not well cooked, unpasteurized or raw. Also use caution when eating raw fruits and vegetables. Do not drink any water that is not in a sealed water bottle or has been treated. This also includes ice and fountain drinks! You can bring travel filters or chemical disinfectants if you will be hiking or camping and need to purify any water you find.
By following the five tips listed above, you will be set to have a great summer vacation. Always use caution and plan ahead so you can focus on having fun and not being sick. That way you can have a great time, learn new things and make wonderful memories.