With summer rapidly approaching many of us are thinking about
vacations to some exotic part of the world. Although overseas
travel has declined sharply since September 11 a resurgence
in international leisure travel is on the horizon. Safety
is and should be your primary concern, but of equal importance
is your health.
Protect yourself against the common maladies that come with
overseas travel, especially to underdeveloped countries. Illnesses
like diarrhea, malaria, food poisoning and motion sickness
has ruined many a vacation. If youre heading to developed
countries in Western Europe you should be relatively safe,
but if youre planning an African safari or your boss
sends you to cover a possible war in the Middle East take
Rule 1, check with your health care provider or a travel-medicine
specialist to get all the necessary immunizations for your
particular destination. If you want to do a little research
on your own about immunizations or other health related travel
issues head to the Centers for Disease Control website at
www.cdc.gov/travel. Also check with the World Health Organization
According to Consumer Reports, the most common illnesses are
actually the same ones you would get if you stayed home. Asthma
or arthritis sufferers will have the same symptoms overseas
that afflict them at home. Why? Because many people forget
to pack the medications necessary to keep these common ailments
at bay. So Rule 2, make sure you have an ample supply of all
medications normally taken at home.
In fact you should pack your own medical kit. The kit should
at a minimum include: antibiotics for diarrhea, respiratory
infections, ointments for cuts and abrasions, hydrocortisone
cream for bug bites, antihistamines, motion sickness drugs,
anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and Acetaminophen.
Also dont forget first aid supplies like bandages, tape,
a thermometer and an extra pair of those prescription eyeglasses.
Rule 3, watch what you eat and drink. Remember this, if you
cant boil it, cook it or peel it then forget it. Food
that is cooked and hot when served is generally safe. Avoid
raw foods, salads, uncooked vegetables, shellfish, unpasteurized
milk and milk products. You might also want to eat fruit that
you can peel yourself. Beware, just because you are staying
at a luxury hotel in some of these underdeveloped countries
doesnt mean the food is safe. If you happen to be in
an area with poor sanitation avoid drinking water or any drink
served with ice. Stick to bottle water, bottled carbonated
beverages or drinks made with boiling water such as coffee
And finally, find out what medical services your health insurance
provider covers when traveling overseas. Some carriers cover
just the basics and others cover absolutely nothing. For those
plans that cover international travel read the fine print.
Experts from the World Health Organization recommend buying
medical assistance insurance especially when traveling to
countries that pose significant health risks.
If you do happen to get sick and need medical attention check
with the U.S. Consular office of the country you are visiting
for a list of western doctors. You are responsible for the
cost of health care but at least they can get you to the best
doctors and notify family and friends back home on an emergency.