Many Americans are gearing up to go on an overseas adventure to another country this summer. While experiencing an exotic culture is extremely exciting, it is crucial that people take the necessary steps to ensure they stay healthy while traveling. People traveling abroad may be exposed to new viruses and bacteria that their bodies have not developed immunity to. They are also at risk of being involved in an unforeseen accident, which may leave them with serious injuries. Foreign environmental and cultural differences, including inadequate sanitation, the presence of insects, and drastic climate changes, can cause these illnesses and injuries. With a little planning and preventative healthcare, people can prepare for the unknown. Here are five tips that every international traveler should keep in mind.
- Check Healthcare Coverage
As people are making their travel plans, they should check with their medical insurance plan to see if they have any overseas coverage. Some medical plans may allow people to add international coverage to their existing plan for the duration of their trip. It may be worth the added fee to avoid costly medical expenses while in another country. It is also helpful for people to identify the location of the foreign hospitals and health clinics before they arrive at their destination. Lastly, check out this handy list of countries showing the type of health care coverage provided for several popular travel destinations.
- Get a Physical
Travelers should make an appointment for a general physical with their primary healthcare physician or a health care professional that specializes in travel medicine. Ideally, people should visit their doctor at least four to six weeks before their trip. During this visit, the doctor will make sure that the patient is up-to-date on all of their routine vaccinations, which include diphtheria, tetanus, rubella, measles, mumps, hepatitis A and B, pertussis, influenza, polio, and meningitis. They may also prescribe a preventative antibiotic treatment or an anti-diarrheal medication for the patient to take with them on their trip.
- Do Some Research
It is crucial that people perform some research on preventative measures and disease risks for the countries they are planning on traveling to. From a business man staying in a five-star hotel in Hong Kong, to a college student going backpacking in Thailand, everyone will have different healthcare needs depending on where their journey takes them.
- Prepare a Travel Kit
Along with their clothes and toiletries, people should pack a travel health kit that contains the following basic items:
- Prescription medications in their original, labeled vials. Some people may want to bring a copy of their original prescription with their physician’s information included.
- An antibiotic to take in case an infection should occur
- An anti-diarrheal medication
- Copy of their vaccination record
- Alcohol-based antibacterial gel
- Insect repellant
- Antibiotic cream
- During the Trip
Depending on where the individual is traveling, they may need to use caution when eating ice, unpasteurized dairy products, fresh fruit and salads, as well as drinking water. People should avoid eating foods from street vendors, and only eat foods that are served hot and are fully cooked. It is important for people to wash their hands regularly with soap, or use an alcohol-based gel. When traveling in countries that have water-borne infections, avoid swimming in lakes and stick to well-chlorinated swimming pools.
Being able to experience another country’s culture, food, traditions, and people is priceless. When travelers follow these medication and healthcare travel tips, they may be able to avoid coming down with a sickness or obtaining an injury while traveling. This allows them to spend more time exploring the amazing country around them.