STAY HEALTHY OVERSEAS - Remember These Tips to Ensure You Are Well Prepared For Happy And Healthy Travels
By Ellen Settler / February 1, 2016
At least 4-6 weeks before traveling, especially somewhere exotic, it is important that you visit a travel medicine specialist or a doctor familiar with travel medicine. While websites such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention can provide basic information relevant to your travel location, it is important that you consult a specialist. These specialists will be able to make more specific recommendations regarding vaccination and/or medications based on factors such as: your destinations, the length of your trip, your age, medical history, and any activities you may have planned. When looking for a travel medicine provider, you can first consult your primary care physician who will be able to refer you to a proper specialist. There are also private clinics that specialize in pre-travel advice and preparation, which can be found through the International Society of Travel Medicine or American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
When you begin packing, some important self-care items to include would be SPF-appropriate sunscreen, insect repellent, small first aid kit, pain/fever reliever, feminine hygiene products, and hand sanitizer. While many of these items may be available during your travels, they may not be the formulation you are accustomed to and are often very expensive.
With regard to medications it is important to bring all of your prescription and over-the counter medications in their original bottle with enough supply for the duration of the trip plus a few extra days should any issues arise. It is also important to pack all medications in your carry-on baggage.
Call your health insurance company before traveling to check what extent your policy covers your health needs in a different state or abroad. Make sure to include copies of your health insurance card in your travel documents. Depending on your standard health insurance coverage, you may want to consider purchasing additional travel health insurance. The price of the premium will vary by trip but can be very reasonable for the peace of mind it provides.
Two of the most important steps you can take to prevent illness while traveling is to stay hydrated and wash your hands. However, if you or someone you are traveling with unfortunately becomes ill while traveling, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. If you are on a group trip or a cruise, you can alert the group leader or cruise health provider to the situation. If you are traveling on your own, you can first contact the U.S. embassy or consulate, which will be able to refer you to appropriate local doctors and medical facilities. Detailed information on doctors abroad can be found in The Official ABMS Directory of Board Certified Medical Specialists, published for the American Board of Medical Specialties, or the International Society of Travel Medicine website. It is also helpful to contact your health insurance company to alert them of your situation, to expedite coverage, and they may be able to provide additional resources. Maintain copies of all medical records and bills you receive during your medical care, and be sure to follow up with your primary care physician when you return home.
By spending the extra time to prepare, you will be able to fully enjoy your travel adventures knowing you are ready not only to have an unforgettable time but also to properly address your health needs should they arise.
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