- Consult your healthcare provider six weeks before traveling for necessary vaccines and immunizations.
- Make a doctor’s appointment to check for underlying health issues and visit your dentist if necessary.
- Wear insect repellant containing DEET, long-sleeved clothing, and bed nets to protect against mosquito bites and diseases.
- Pack extra medication for chronic conditions, bring prescriptions, and invest in travel insurance for added protection.
Traveling is always exciting, but it can also be stressful. There’s so much to remember — from packing the right clothes to ensuring you have your passport and tickets — that it can be easy to forget about one of the most critical aspects of pre-trip planning: your health. You should always take proactive steps to stay healthy during your trip.
Before embarking on your next adventure, consider these essential health issues.
1. Stay Up-to-Date on Vaccines and Immunizations
Depending on where in the world you’re heading, certain vaccines and immunizations may be required or recommended. This could include measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), hepatitis A and B, yellow fever, typhoid fever, or rabies. It’s best to consult with a healthcare provider at least six weeks before traveling abroad. This will give you plenty of time for necessary vaccinations or booster shots.
Plus, if you’re traveling with children under 18, they’ll need their own medical advice and checkups before leaving home. You can also check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website for information about specific health risks in each country. Many health insurance plans cover the costs of recommended immunizations, so check with your provider for more details.
2. Deal With Any Pains and Aches Beforehand
You don’t want to be dealing with a sore back or an itchy rash while on vacation. Schedule a checkup with your doctor before you go to ensure you have no underlying health issues that could affect your trip. If anything does come up, make sure to get it taken care of before you leave home.
You should also check in with your dentist for any problems. For example, many dental issues may require replacing the tooth itself. A tooth replacement procedure like implant dentistry isn’t typically done while traveling, so you want to talk to your dentist beforehand. They’ll be able to recommend the best course of action, so you don’t need to worry about it while on vacation.
3. Protect Yourself Against Insect-Borne Diseases
Mosquitoes are more than an annoyance; they’re also carriers of diseases like malaria, dengue fever, West Nile virus, Zika virus, and yellow fever. You must be prepared for different insect-borne diseases depending on where you’re going and what activities you have planned (hiking through rainforests versus lying out in the sun?). Here are some tips:
a. Wear insect repellant with DEET
DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) is an active ingredient in many insect repellents. Use a product containing at least 20% DEET and reapply it every two hours or after swimming. This will protect you from mosquito bites and the diseases they carry.
b. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants
When possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants in light colors. Loose-fitting items made of breathable fabric are best for hot climates. You can also spray your clothing with insect repellants containing permethrin.
c. Use bed nets
Bed nets are a great way to protect yourself from mosquitoes while you sleep. If you’re staying in a hotel or resort, ask if they provide bed nets as part of their services.
d. Use air conditioning
When indoors, use air conditioning and/or keep windows closed and screened to keep mosquitoes out. You can also purchase plug-in mosquito repellants for your hotel room.
4. Know Your Medical History
If you take regular medications for chronic conditions like asthma or diabetes (or even something as simple as ibuprofen for headaches), pack enough medication for your trip, plus a few extra days. You never know if there will be delays due to weather or mechanical issues with flights.
Store the meds in their original containers with clear labels showing the name of the drug and dosage instructions for accessible airport security screenings. If possible, bring copies of prescriptions and contact information for doctors at home should an emergency arise while away from home. This will make it easier to fill any prescriptions you need while traveling.
5. Get Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is a critical way to protect yourself, your belongings, and your health while traveling. Most comprehensive policies cover trip cancellations, lost luggage, medical expenses, and emergency evacuations. It’s a small investment that can save you a lot of grief in the long run.
Traveling comes with its fair share of stressors, but don’t let health concerns slip through the cracks! You should always make sure that you are up-to-date on all vaccines and immunizations, deal with any pains or aches beforehand, protect yourself against insect-borne diseases, know your medical history, and get travel insurance. Taking the time to research these health essentials will ensure you have a safe and enjoyable vacation!