Tips for Staying Healthy While Traveling Overseas
15 Oct 2012
Traveling abroad is a fun and exciting experience, and the last thing you want is to get sick on your trip. In order to stay healthy during your travels there are precautions that you can take before and during your journey. Here are some tips for pre-trip prep, how to stay healthy while you’re there, and how to stay protected.
As you begin planning for your overseas trip, start preparing. For instance, it’s important to find out what vaccinations you might need. Check the Travelers’ Health section of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, which provides current, destination-specific information on disease outbreaks and a list of required or suggested vaccinations and medications. Some vaccinations require more than one dose and are given in a series over a period of days or weeks. Most vaccines take time to become effective in your body, so you should try to schedule a doctor’s visit 4 to 6 weeks before your trip. If you are traveling with children, take their immunization records with you.
Depending on where you are traveling to, it might be a good idea to get international or travel health insurance. In many countries where you have limited access to health care, good care is only found in the private sector and can be very expensive. Ask your health insurance company whether your policy applies overseas and whether it will cover trips to a foreign hospital. If not, there are many companies that offer short-term travel health insurance.
Jet lag and motion sickness are common ailments for people who are traveling abroad. When you fly across time zones, it can take time for your internal clock to catch up with the local time. Jet leg can cause tiredness, an upset stomach, or even insomnia. To prevent jet lag, try to adjust your sleep schedule 2 to 3 days before departure, and get plenty of rest before your trip. Once you reach your destination, try to follow the local time’s schedule. Motion sickness is caused by a conflict between the eye and ear. The mixed signals coming into your brain can cause nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and cold sweats. Since motion sickness tends to get worse on an empty stomach, eat a light snack before your trip; try to eat foods that are easily digested, such as complex carbohydrates.
Foodborne illness is one of the most common ailments when traveling abroad. Most people experience travelers’ diarrhea, which happens as a result of eating food or water contaminated by E. coli. The best preventive measures are regular hand washing and careful eating. Eat only well-cooked foods that are still hot, don’t consume salads or raw vegetables, and only drink bottled water. If you happen to catch a food-borne illness, staying hydrated and letting your body get it out of its system will shorten the duration.
The better you protect yourself from illness, the more enjoyable your trip will be. Take the time to research your destination and jet off with a bit of preparation.
What are your tips for traveling abroad?