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The 10 Commandments of Basic Travel Health




I’m guessing we agree – travel is great. But then again, travel can be exhausting, dirty, and just downright unhealthy. A survey earlier this year showed that 63 percent of travelers report that they or their travel companion got sick while traveling. Of course, there are simple precautions you can take before traveling abroad which could help ensure that you’re not part of that unlucky 63 percent.

Follow these commandments, and they shall set you free. Or at least make your trip healthier and therefore more fun:

  1. Research your destination. It’s important to understand what you’re walking into. At a bare minimum, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, the State Department website, and monitor international news so that you have an understanding of the conditions in your destination.
  2. Sign up for mPassport.  If you do get sick or injured while traveling, mPassport can help you navigate the healthcare system in a foreign land. With mPassport, you won’t be guessing which doctor or hospital is going to give you better medical care.
  3. Get appropriate vaccinations. Contact your family doctor and set up a vaccination schedule. Find out if your destination country requires proof of vaccination.
  4. Drink bottled water. Depending on your destination, the water might not be truly potable, and that can wreck a trip faster than just about anything. It’s also smart to avoid ice cubes. You could also use water purifiers or tablets.
  5. Wash your hands. A lot. Most germs are passed along via hand contact, whether it’s touching various objects, or simply shaking hands with a lot of people. You should wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water several times a day, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  6. Eat “safe” foods. I know you’ve always dreamed of trying fugu, and that’s fine, but there are plenty of seemingly innocuous foods that could leave you writhing on the floor if they aren’t properly cleaned and prepared. For instance it’s best to stick with thick-skinned fruits that you can peel yourself, such as oranges and bananas. And try to eat well-cooked food while it’s still hot.
  7. Drive safe. If you’re doing the driving, know the local rules of the road – you know, things like being on the proper side of the road. Use a GPS if it’s available. And always wear seat belts in vehicles and a helmet when riding a bicycle, moped, or motorcycle.
  8. Get some sleep. This is not always easy to do if you’ve crossed a couple of time zones. Jet lag is one of the great scourges of international travel, but there are ways to fight it.
  9. Pack a travel health kit. Include things such as a pain reliever (ibuprofen or acetaminophen), eye drops, sunscreen, Band-aids, decongestants, antacid, cough drops and any prescription medications you need.
  10. Bring some workout gear. It’s a good idea to hit the gym if you’re gone for more than couple of days, or at least bang out some pushups and sit-ups in your hotel room. If you go for a run, make sure the route you choose is a safe one.

Follow these commandments, and you’ll improve the odds that you’ll have a healthy trip – and a happy return home.


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Linda Barbara

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