Vacation health care
- Bring nonprescription medications that you might need with you.
- Take insurance ID cards.
- Take a medical first aid kit.
- Take sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses.
- Check with your health care provider before leaving if you are taking medications. Carry any medications with you - not in your luggage.
- Check your health insurance carrier regarding your health care coverage (including coverage for emergency transport) while traveling out of the country.
- Consider traveler’s insurance if you are going abroad.
- Take the name and phone numbers of your pharmacist and health care provider.
- When traveling to another country, research the accessibility and quality of health care there.
- If you are leaving your children, leave a consent-to-treat form with whomever is caring for your children.
- If you are planning a long flight, minimize jet lag by scheduling your arrival at your destination at roughly your usual bedtime, according to the time zone to which you are flying.
- If you have an important event at your long-distance destination, plan on arriving 2 or 3 days in advance, if possible, so that you will be fresh for your appointment.
- Take immunization records, along with any other important medical records, especially when traveling to another country.
- When traveling to an underdeveloped country, make sure that everyone in your traveling party is adequately immunized against any infectious disease you might encounter. Some countries require certificates of vaccination against diseases such as cholera and yellow fever. Check with your health care provider and see the section on immunizations.
ON THE ROAD
- Upon arrival, check the local emergency number. Not all communities use 911.
- When traveling with children, make sure that they know the name and telephone number of your hotel in case they get lost. Give them enough money to make a phone call and make sure they know how to use the phones if you are in a foreign country.
- When traveling to less economically developed countries, don’t drink the water if you want to avoid the risk of diarrhea. Remember the ice may also be contaminated if there is concern with the water. Bottled water may be safe, as long as it is factory bottled. Traveler’s diarrhea can also result from drinking beverages that contain ice. Bottled carbonated sodas, beer, and wine (without ice) are safe.
- Cooked foods are usually safe, but raw foods and salads (lettuce, raw vegetables, fruit with peel, unpasteurized milk, milk products, undercooked seafood or meat) can lead to gastrointestinal problems. Eat in restaurants that have a reputation for safe cooking.
- If you come down with diarrhea, drink plenty of bottled liquids. Broths and carbonated beverages are good for maintaining your strength.
- If you are visiting an area where diarrheal illnesses are common (Mexico, for example), speak with your health care provider about getting a prescription for antibiotics. Fill the prescription and take it with you in case you fall ill.
- When traveling long distances, expect your body to adjust to a new time zone at the rate of about 1 hour per day.
by Sharon M. Smith, M.D.
All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.