Are you planning to travel abroad? You may want to look over our short checklist to protect against some of the most common travel disasters. After all, if you end up feeling lousy when overseas, it makes it hard to get business done or enjoy your vacation. Here are a few tips that can help save you from grief.
Tips For Traveling Abroad
- Be sure you’re up-to-date on your shots. A disease that’s not prevalent or has even been wiped out entirely in the U.S. might still be a threat abroad. Go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) website to check out health information and vaccination requirements for your destination. The CDC site is also a good source of information about whether the food and water in certain countries is safe.
- Fill and bring a copy of your prescriptions. It might be difficult to fill your prescriptions abroad so, if possible, pack enough supplies for your whole trip. It’s smart to keep prescriptions in your carry-on baggage. Bring photocopies of your prescriptions and note the generic brand name. Always pack your medicine in prescription bottles in your carry-on bag. If you need to use syringes, make sure that you have a letter from your doctor. Always declare the syringes before you go through security. Be sure to check the “Confiscation of Prescription Drugs and Other Medicine” on the State Department’s Country Specific Information site to learn which prescription drugs are legal at your destination.
- Check your proximity to local medical facilities. This is particularly important if you have a preexisting health condition or are in fragile health. If you’re in fragile health, you shouldn’t be more than minutes away from quality treatment if something goes wrong and you need acute care. If you’re going on a cruise, ask these questions: What kind of medical staff are on board? In which country are they licensed? What kind of diagnostic capabilities (lab equipment, x-rays, etc.) are on board? What specialty consultations are available should the on-board staff need one?
- Learn about likely health hazards. One of the most common conditions that affects people vacationing in tropical areas is heat exhaustion. The CDC and National Institutes of Health (NIH) list symptoms of heat exhaustion to keep an eye out for, such as a high temperature, red skin, shallow breathing or a rapid pulse. Heat stroke has some of the same symptoms as heat exhaustion, but it’s worse and should be treated as a medical emergency. The CDC lists warning signs of heat stroke and offers some tips on the best ways of handling the condition.
- Check for travel warnings and advisories. The State Department lists specific travel alerts and warnings country by country. Warnings are for situations you’re probably already aware of – an unstable government, a civil war – but travel alerts change regularly and are for short-term events that the State Department thinks you should know about if you’re planning travel. Examples of alerts might include a health alert like an outbreak of H1N1; an election season that is bound to have many strikes, demonstrations or disturbances; or evidence of an elevated risk of terrorist attacks. When these short-term events are over, State cancels the alerts.
- Buy travel insurance. Most people don’t realize that the medical insurance they rely on stateside will not provide coverage when traveling internationally. If that fact isn’t concerning enough to your budget, know that $100,000 won’t even cover getting you home if you are sick or injured and require special medical transportation back to the states from distant regions. So if you purchase travel insurance, be sure to look into the “medical evacuation” option. Travel insurance can protect you from other unplanned occurrences, such as if you need to cancel your trip, if you miss your connection, if your flight is cancelled, if a hurricane damages your destination, if your baggage is delayed or lost and if your passport is lost.
Plan Ahead Before You Travel Abroad
If an unexpected emergency happens, a traveler can rack up tremendous expenses abroad – especially if they haven’t planned for and protected against health tribulations. Taking a bit of time to ensure you’ve taken all the steps you can to maintain your health and that you’ve effectively guarded yourself against the worst possible outcomes is the best route to take while traveling.