• By Sarah Isom, MPH, CHES
  • Posted Monday, June 4, 2018

Summer Travel and Your Health

Are you planning on traveling this summer by escaping to an overseas retreat? Here’s everything you need to know about staying healthy and safe before, during, and after your vacation. There are health and safety risks you need to be aware of no matter where you travel.

Before you go:

Make sure you learn about health concerns at your destination. If you are traveling somewhere overseas, make sure you see your doctor or a travel medicine specialist to get needed vaccines and any medication at least 4 to 6 weeks before you leave. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all travelers be up to date on routine vaccines, including influenza and measles. Monitoring travel warnings and alerts are also important, and can be done through the State Department website or through any US Embassy website at your destination.

Pack a travel health kit with your prescription medications, your health insurance card, and any over-the-counter medications you might need for your trip. Add first aid supplies like band aids, antibiotic ointment, and blister pads.

Always prepare for the unexpected. Leave copies of your itinerary, contact information, credit cards, and passport with someone at home in case you lose them during your travel. Find out if you health insurance covers medical care abroad, many plans don’t!

During your trip:

Eat and drink safely. Eat food that is cooked and served hot, and only eat fruits and vegetables that you have washed in safe, clean water and/or peeled yourself. Drink water, sodas, or sports drinks that are bottled and sealed. Use ice made with bottled or disinfected water.

Protect yourself from hot temperatures and sun exposure with sunscreen and hydrating with plenty of clean water. Prevent insect bites with insect repellant.

Don’t forget to choose safe transportation. According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of healthy US citizens in foreign countries. Ride only in marked taxis or ride-sharing vehicles. Always use seat belts, and make sure to be alert when crossing the streets. Avoid overcrowded, overweight, or top heavy buses and vans.

After your return:

Some travel-related illnesses may not show up until after you get home. If you are not feeling well after your trip, see your doctor or travel medicine specialist and let them know about your recent travel.

For current travel advisories and other important travel information, visit travel.state.gov.

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