When it comes to international travel planning, the Internet is a great resource for purchasing tickets, reading hotel reviews, and perusing travel guides. However, while surfing the web, do not limit your visits to travel booking websites. Staying healthy and having the help you need if you get sick are key when traveling. Fortunately, there are online resources that can help you prepare for healthy travel.
Get your bearings several months before your trip. Learn more about your travel destination and about any health risks in the areas you will be in. Learning about risks well in advance will also give you time to get any necessary vaccinations. Here are some helpful websites to get you started.
This comprehensive website is a great place to learn tips and precautions for healthy travel. The website provides the latest information on disease outbreaks, as well as information categorized under general topics, such as:
- Destinations—Health and safety information for travelers organized by destination
- Vaccinations—General information about vaccinations needed for travel
- Diseases—Information on diseases related to travel, like malaria
- Find a Clinic—Resource for locating clinics providing travel health services
Department of State Travel Website: http://travel.state.gov/
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) Website: https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/
This website offers a plethora of information related to travel in general—passports, visas, and policies. It also has a section on travel health issues and advice, including information for obtaining help from the consulate in the event of a medical emergency.
The department also offers a free service called the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). You can sign up online to receive travel warning updates and alerts. Enrolling will also allow the United States government to assist you better in the event of an emergency abroad.
No one wants to get sick while traveling. Visit your doctor to make sure you are fine to travel, especially if you are currently taking medicines or have a preexisting condition. In the event you may need medical attention abroad, check out the websites below for a list of doctors.
The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers has an international directory of affiliated physicians, hospitals, and clinics providing care to members traveling abroad. Membership is free and interested travelers can sign up online.
The International Society of Travel Medicine has a directory of healthcare professionals worldwide. You can access the directory by clicking on a search engine page for global travel clinics.
Before leaving for your trip, check with your health insurance company to find out if your policy will work while you are abroad and if it will cover emergency expenses (eg, medical evacuation). You may also want to consider buying separate travel health insurance. If you decide to buy travel insurance, shop around for a plan that works for your travel needs. Below are just a handful of many companies that offer travel health insurance.
When you get back from your trip, be mindful of your health. It is possible to acquire a disease when traveling but only notice symptoms weeks or months after returning home. If you experience any illness, extreme tiredness, fever, or rash, contact your doctor. Make sure you let him know about your recent travel history. With proper planning and awareness, your next adventure can be both enjoyable and healthy!
Franco-Paredes C, Hochberg N. General approach to the returned traveler. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: . Created July 1, 2011. Updated July 1, 2011. Accessed August 4, 2011.
Johnson KJ, Sommers TE. Travel health insurance and evacuation insurance. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: . Created July 1, 2011. Updated July 1, 2011. Accessed August 4, 2011.
Kolars JC. Rules of the road: a consumer’s guide for travelers seeking health care in foreign lands. J Travel Med. 2002 Jul-Aug;9(4):198-201.
Sommers TE. Obtaining healthcare abroad for the ill traveler. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: . Created July 1, 2011. Updated July 1, 2011. Accessed August 4, 2011.
Tips for traveling abroad. Department of State website. Available at: . Accessed August 4, 2011.
Last reviewed August 2011 by Lawrence Frisch, MD, MPH
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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