Whether you’ll be relaxing on a beach in the Outer Banks, exploring Asheville, or simply visiting family in South Carolina, it’s important to make the necessary preparations to stay healthy while traveling. Below are some tips:
Protect yourself from illness while traveling internationally.
In the United States, we are fortunate to have a relatively low burden of infectious disease, but if you are traveling outside the US, you may need vaccinations or medications to protect yourself from diseases native to that region. Check the Center for Disease Control’s travel website before you travel to see if you need additional vaccines.
- Some of the most common travel-related vaccines we administer are typhoid and hepatitis A, as well as medication to prevent malaria. Your primary care doctor can easily help you with these and other vaccines.
- If you need vaccines prior to travel, try to see your doctor at least 30 days prior to travel! Some vaccines need several weeks to take effect.
- If you are traveling for a special purpose (i.e., working with animals, working with indigenous peoples), you may need additional medications or vaccines. Check with the group organizing your trip to see if they have specific recommendations.
- If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor before any international travel.
Don’t forget your supplies such as:
- All prescription medications in their original bottles
- Insulin, blood sugar testing supplies, inhalers, CPAP machines, etc.
- Commonly used over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, allergy medications, heartburn tablets and anti-diarrhea medications (Your travel destination may not have these items readily available.)
- First aid items if you will be hiking, backpacking or camping in the great outdoors
Don’t let the bugs bite.
Bug bites can be annoying and itchy, but many insects can also transmit disease!
- If you will be in an area with mosquitoes, use an appropriate bug repellent, wear protective clothing and use mosquito netting, if needed.
- If malaria is prevalent in your travel destination, you may need malaria prophylaxis. Check with the CDC website and with your doctor before traveling.
- If you will be in the woods or fields, check your body daily for ticks. Check your children and your pets, too.
Protect your skin from the sun.
Any sun exposure can damage your skin, any time, anywhere. Sunburn does not just happen at the beach!
- Bring plenty of sunscreen (broad spectrum SPF 30 or above).
- Wear hats and sun protective clothing.
Make sure your to optimize your health prior to travel.
Although international travel can put you at risk for exotic diseases, you are much more likely to be affected by common acute and chronic illnesses when traveling.
- Make sure you are up to date on your flu shot. The close quarters on airplanes, trains and buses makes it easy for viruses to travel from one person to the next.
- Try to get your chronic health conditions (such as diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma) optimally controlled prior to travelling any great distance. Talk to your primary care doctor to help you with this.
- Make sure to see your doctor at least once a year for your annual exam. This is a perfect time to make sure vaccines are up to date and that you have not developed any new health conditions.