15 healthy tips for international travel

15 healthy tips for international travel

With the holiday season in full swing, many will begin traveling not only over the river and through the woods, but over oceans and borders. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, more than 900 million people all over the globe travel internationally each year.

Travel this extensive exposes many people to a great number of health risks so it’s important to take the proper precautions to ensure your safety during your travels.

Follow these 15 international travel tips to reduce health risks on your trip:

  1. Update all appropriate immunizations. Make sure you have been immunized for both Hepatitis A (transmitted via contaminated food and water) and Hepatitis B (transmitted via blood and body fluids).
  2. Check to see if you are traveling to a region that requires a Yellow Fever vaccine.
  3. Take your malaria pills if your travel provider recommends prophylaxis medicine.
  4. Ask your travel medicine provider to supply you with medicine for self-treatment of traveler’s diarrhea.
  5. Protect yourself from typhoid fever by obtaining a pack of four pills or a shot.
  6. Get your yearly flu immunization.
  7. Seek an appointment with a travel medicine provider at least one month prior to travel in case you need more than one booster shot (this applies to students as well.)
  8. Consider how to obtain health care while abroad. Most international travelers obtain medical evacuation insurance for emergencies.
  9. Be cautious around all animals. Do not pet animals. One cannot be sure that animals do not have rabies.
  10. Take along insect repellant (insect repellents need to have DEET to be effective against ticks.)
  11. Always travel with hand sanitizer or wipes, sunscreen and a small first aid kit.
  12. Protect your personal security. Always make sure at least one person knows where you are.
  13. Alert your health care provider to any recent travel out of the country if you become ill.
  14. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death of healthy U.S. citizens in foreign countries. Select safe transportation/vehicles when in a foreign country.
  15. Finally, enjoy experiencing other cultures and lifestyles but respect local customs in the way you dress, behave at religious sites and display affection.

These are just a few of many tips that might be relevant for international travelers. For additional recommendations and resources, click here.

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About the Author

Dr. Thomas Sutter
Dr. Thomas Sutter

Dr. Thomas L. Sutter is medical director of Advocate Medical Group Occupational Health, which has offices in Chicagoland and central Illinois. Dr. Sutter is board certified in occupational medicine and is a certified medical review officer (MRO), a certified independent medical examiner (IME) and a certified aviation medical examiner (AME).