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Travel Tips

Traveling to foreign countries can bring with it excitement and anticipation. There are many issues to consider in keeping yourself healthy. Careful planning can help you enjoy your vacation or complete business with minimal or no disruption in your health. Here are some tips to help:

  • Fifty percent of travelers will experience diarrheal illness. Contaminated food and water are the two most common ways to contract this disease. Vigorous food and beverage precautions plus proper hand washing is essential for all travelers. Hepatitis A and Typhoid are two vaccine preventable diarrheal illnesses. Your travel health provider will help determine which antibiotic will be effective to protect you from bacterial causes of traveler's diarrhea based on your itinerary and health status.
  • Insect precautions help prevent numerous insect borne diseases, such as Yellow Fever, Malaria, Dengue Fever, Japanese Encephalitis, Lyme Disease, etc. Vaccines or prophylactic prescription medication can prevent some of these diseases.
  • Jet lag will occur in virtually all travelers crossing three or more time zones. Our circadian rhythm (internal clock) needs time to adjust. You can minimize jet lag's effects by altering your sleep habits one week prior to departure.
  • Motion sickness affects one in 20 travelers. Choosing your seat in a car, bus, plane and boat may be helpful in reducing or eliminating motion sickness.
  • Do not forget to protect your skin and eyes from the sun. Remember the sun's rays are strongest between 10 am and 4 pm. Using a minimum of 15 SPF sunscreen is essential to help prevent the harmful effects from the sun.
  • The leading cause of death for travelers to developing countries is motor vehicle accidents. Always wear a seatbelt and drive defensively. Beware, in some countries, the "rules of the road" are not enforced or are nonexistent.
  • Rapid ascent to altitudes over 9,000 feet can cause altitude sickness and acute mountain syndrome. Travelers can suffer serious consequences and even death. Prescription medications are available for prevention and treatment.
  • Some diseases may not become apparent, such as malaria, until you return from your trip. If you become ill, always inform your healthcare provider where you have traveled in the previous six months. This simple information can help lead to an accurate diagnosis of your ailment.
  • Consider evacuation insurance especially if you have a chronic disease or are elderly. This can be obtained through your travel agency, International SOS, as well as other insurance companies. Check with your health insurance carrier if they will cover treatment overseas. If not consider purchasing supplemental health insurance coverage.

Consult the OHC's Travel Medicine Program as soon as you begin to plan your vacation or business trip. This will assure the timely completion of required and recommended immunizations for vaccine preventable diseases and allow you time to obtain the appropriate medications to protect you from other diseases that you may encounter. Your itinerary, current health status and immunization record are essential for the travel health provider to provide you with accurate information and recommendations.

Most of all enjoy your travels! Whether you travel for leisure or business, it is a wonderful opportunity to meet new people, learn about new cultures, and enjoy new sites and cities. Visit your Travel Medicine Program to help you remain healthy and fit for your upcoming adventure.

The Occupational Health Center: 610.738.2450

Last Updated: 5/18/2012