According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Association, most resident travelers are not packing the most important components to get help and stay healthy – travel evacuation insurance and antibodies! According the 2014 U.S. Outbound Travel and Trade report, 30,780,000 citizens went abroad, of those 87.8% did not get pre-trip vaccinations as 71.9% did not purchase travel insurance.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website is a great tool for travelers who want to discover what might ail them while they are away. There’s a country-specific page on what you should know and do, like routine and special vaccines, disease preventers such as mosquito spray, and other precautions. With help from the CDC, you can instantly learn the answers to some of the tougher travel questions, such as:
I’m going to Aruba. I’ve got my sunscreen. What else do I need?
Don’t depart without mosquito repellent and protective clothing. The zika virus is found in Aruba. If you or your partner are pregnant, or considering pregnancy, get serious about mosquito bite prevention. You should plan to get up-to-date on routine shots such as measles, mumps and rubella – MMR, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis – dtp, chickenpox, polio, rabies, tetanus and flu. Visit a travel clinic to discuss inoculation for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, and other threats. It may take a series of shots and weeks to incubate for you to build antibodies to fight disease.
I’m going hiking in Finland. I’ve got all my routine vaccines. I’m set, right?
Not quite. If you’re going to be out in the backwoods for the majority of your trip, make sure you also have a rabies vaccine. Rabies isn’t a major risk for most travelers to Finland. However, it can be found in bats and other mammals in the area. Better safe than sorry. Rabies attacks the central nervous system. Because it has fairly common symptoms at first, it can be hard to catch early.
I’m going to Vietnam. I have no clue what to bring with me.
Fear not. On every CDC country page, there’s a link to a Healthy Travel Packing List. You can use this checklist for all the things you may need in order to stay healthy in Vietnam, including your prescriptions, anti-diarrheal medicine, altitude sickness medicine and antacids.
And there’s more
Staying healthy abroad needs preventative measures. Here are a few more tips from the CDC to save you and your body a lot of trouble on your trip:
- To avoid getting a bug on crowded flights:
- Wash your hands often. When you don’t have access to a sink, use a hand sanitizer. Make sure it’s at least 60 percent alcohol. (Travel size, of course.)
- Get a flu vaccine every year, especially before you travel
- To quickly recover from a flu:
- Stay home for at least 24 hours
- Consider getting an antiviral drug from your doctor
- Wash your hands often to keep your illness from spreading
- To avoid motion sickness on your journey:
- On a plane: Sit over the wing
- On a car or bus: Sit near the front
- On a cruise ship: Get a central cabin
- Before you go: Pack some motion sickness medicine – talk to your doctor about the best one for you
- To beat jet lag:
- Maintain a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep before you go, adjusting your sleep schedule to match your destination’s time zone
- Avoid large meals and caffeine during your journey
- Drink plenty of water – not soda
- Walk around periodically on long flights
- Get out in the sun once you arrive
- Maintain a local sleep and food schedule
- Talk to your doctor about taking medicine to help you sleep at night as well as food supplements to get an extra nutritional boost
- To get pre-trip vaccinations:
The CDC’s database is a great tool for a healthy traveler. You can also learn from the World Health Organization’s country specification sheets. Learn more about resources to keep you safe abroad at Depart Smart.org.