Vacation health care
Travel health tips
Planning ahead of time can make your travels smoother and help you avoid problems.
- Talk to your health care provider or visit a travel clinic 4 to 6 weeks before you leave for your trip. You may need to get updated (or booster) vaccinations before you leave.
- Ask your health insurance carrier what they will cover (including emergency transport) while traveling out of the country.
- Consider traveler's insurance if you are going outside of the United States.
- If you are leaving your children, leave a signed consent-to-treat form with your children's caretaker.
- If you are taking medicine, talk to your health care provider before leaving. Carry all medicines with you in your carry-on bag.
- If traveling outside the United States, learn about the health care in the country you are visiting. If you can, find out where you would go if you needed medical help.
- If you are planning a long flight, try to arrive as close as possible to your normal bedtime based on the time zone where you are landing. This will help prevent jet lag.
- If you have an important event scheduled, plan to arrive 2 or 3 days in advance. This will give you time to recover from jet lag.
Video: Vacation health care
IMPORTANT ITEMS TO PACK
Important items to bring with you include:
- First aid kit
- Immunization records
- Insurance ID cards
- Medical records for chronic illnesses or recent major surgery
- Name and phone numbers of your pharmacist and health care providers
- Nonprescription medications that you might need
- Sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses
ON THE ROAD
Know what steps you need to take to prevent different diseases and infections. This includes:
- How to avoid mosquito bites
- What foods are safe to eat
- Where it is safe to eat
- How to drink water and other liquids
- How to wash and clean your hands well
Know how to prevent and treat traveler's diarrhea if you are visiting an area where it is a common problem (such as Mexico).
Other tips include:
- Be aware of vehicle safety. Use seat belts when traveling.
- Check the local emergency number for where you are. Not all places use 911.
- When traveling long distances, expect your body to adjust to a new time zone at the rate of about 1 hour per day.
When traveling with children:
- Make sure that the children know the name and telephone number of your hotel in case they get separated from you.
- Write this information down. Put this information in a pocket or other place on their person.
- Give children enough money to make a phone call. Make sure they know how to use the phone system where you are.
Basnyat B, Ericsson CD. Travel medicine. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 84.
Freedman DO. Approach to the patient before and after travel. In: Goldsmith LA, Katz SI, Gilchrest B, Paller A, Leffell D, Wolff K, eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2012:chap 286.
Swanson SJ, John CC. Health advice for children traveling internationally. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 175.