By Eric Johnson, MS, FNP-BC
It’s only January, and nevertheless, you may already be thinking spring break.
Make the most of your travels by planning appropriately!
Whether you’re staying within the borders of the United States, or traveling abroad, every country has its own special risks, from minor to severe and a consultation prior to travel can help to identify risks and remedies.
1. Seek consultation with a knowledgeable health care provider prior to travel. And no need to wait until the last minute!
2. Get appropriate vaccines for specific destinations. These should be done at least two weeks before travel, but even have benefit if given in a shorter interval. Some vaccines are recommended to protect against diseases prevalent in specific countries, while some countries require specific vaccines for entry to the country.
3. Create a personal first aid and medical kit containing travel and personal medications for your trip. These should be in your carry-on luggage and always in their original containers. The availability and quality of supplies and medications may be questionable in many developing countries.
4. Consider evacuation and travel insurance if traveling out of the U.S. InsureMyTrip.com or TripInsuranceStore.com are two providers. These policies are not expensive and can be literal lifesavers if the need arises.
5. Take precautions against malaria and other insect borne diseases. Take anti-malarial medication as recommended by your health care provider. Medications should be purchased in the U.S. as many medications overseas contain no active ingredients. In addition to malaria, there are many mosquito and other bug borne illnesses that require bug precaution measures. See Travmed.com for insect protection products.
6. Road safety is important, whether in the US or abroad, always wear seat belts and use helmets on bikes and motorcycles and avoid night time driving when abroad.
7. Abstain from casual or unsafe sexual practices to avoid any exposure to HIV, Hepatitis B and other sexually transmitted diseases.
8. Assure safe water and food supplies. Avoid raw foods and any non-treated water. Stick to bottled water that you have opened. Carry Potable Aqua or other water treatment product as a back up if the water supply is at all suspicious. A majority of travel associated illness is from food and water sources.
9. Avoid excessive sun exposure by using sunscreen with a minimum of an SPF-30 rating. Be aware that sun is most intense from 10-4 and when on water, snow or at altitude.
10. Leave animals alone. Rabies or other infections and be a serious risk from bites or scratches. Even the cutest puppy may carries rabies. For certain travelers rabies vaccination may be appropriate.
11. Documents: Make sure to take copies of all prescriptions, duplicates of passport, driver’s license, emergency contacts, the phone and address of a local consulate or embassy and a local clinic.