This is the time of year we see many families traveling to destinations near and far. Here are summer travel tips to stay healthy and answers to the questions we get asked the most.
Ensure that you are up to date on routine vaccinations, including measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, and influenza. Additionally, some countries in Europe and Asia may require specific vaccinations, such as hepatitis A and B, typhoid, meningitis, or Japanese encephalitis, depending on your summer travel itinerary. Check the recommended vaccinations for your destination and ensure you receive them in a timely manner.
Medication and Prescriptions
If you take regular medications, make sure you have an ample supply for the duration of your trip. Carry them in their original, labeled containers to avoid any issues with customs or security checkpoints. It’s also wise to carry a written prescription or a note from your doctor explaining your medical condition and the necessity of the medications.
Obtain travel insurance that includes medical coverage. Check the policy details to ensure it covers emergency medical expenses, medical evacuation, and repatriation to your home country. Read the terms and conditions carefully and understand any exclusions or limitations. Keep a copy of your insurance policy and contact details with you during your trip.
Food and Water Safety
In certain regions of Asia and Europe, food and waterborne illnesses can be a concern. To minimize the risk of contracting such infections, follow these guidelines:
- Drink bottled or purified water and avoid consuming tap water, ice cubes, and beverages made with tap water.
- Eat freshly cooked, hot foods and avoid raw or undercooked meats, seafood, fruits, and vegetables.
- Peel fruits yourself and avoid salads or uncooked vegetables that may have been washed in tap water.
- Practice good hand hygiene, using hand sanitizers or washing hands with soap and clean water before eating or handling food.
Certain regions in Asia and Europe are known for mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever, Zika virus, malaria, or Japanese encephalitis. Protect yourself from mosquito bites by using insect repellents containing DEET, wearing long sleeves and pants, and staying in accommodations with proper mosquito screening or bed nets if necessary. Consider seeking medical advice regarding antimalarial medications for specific areas where the risk is higher.
Traveler’s diarrhea is a common concern during international travel. To reduce the risk:
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water, or use hand sanitizers when handwashing facilities are not available.
- Avoid consuming street food, raw or undercooked foods, and unpeeled fruits and vegetables.
- Drink bottled or purified water and avoid ice cubes or beverages prepared with tap water.
- Consider carrying over-the-counter medications like loperamide (anti-diarrheal) and oral rehydration salts to manage symptoms.
Remember, these are general recommendations, and specific precautions may vary based on your destination, duration of summer travel, and individual health conditions. It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional or travel medicine specialist for personalized advice tailored to your needs and circumstances. Stay informed, stay healthy, and enjoy your summer travel experience!
Prerana Sangani, MD, June, 2023