Spring has sprung and you’re probably starting to make summer travel plans. How can you prepare yourself and your family to have a fun, but safe and healthy, vacation?
Prepare for the Worst: Your Medical Essentials Packing List
Anywhere you are destined, pre-pack a carry-on travel health kit including:
- All family prescriptions (enough to get you there and back, plus a few)
- Common over-the-counter medications
- First aid basics: Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, sterilizing wipes, etc.
- Your health insurance cards
If going on an extended vacation, prescriptions may run out. Nearly every U.S. pharmacy can fill prescriptions if you bring your bottle in. If contacted ahead of time, doctors can often provide a medication order to be filled while traveling.
It is best to travel with medications in their original packaging or prescription bottle in case you are asked to prove they are yours. Even better, bring a written prescription or a copy of your personal medical record with you. Resources like MyChart
make your information even easier to access.
In the event important identification documents or cards are lost or stolen, leave copies of your itinerary, reservations, contact information, credit cards, licenses and passports in a location a trusted family member or friend can access from home.
Leaving the United States? Our Top Tips to Stay Healthy
Traveling internationally means you need to prepare a little more before taking off.
Tip #1: Check your international medical coverage.
Before you leave, find out if your health insurance covers medical care abroad. You can arrange for additional insurance, if needed.
Tip #2: Get medical info about your travel destination.
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
is a free service to alert the nearest US Embassy or Consulate that you will be in-country. The program offers alerts about health and safety conditions where you’re traveling, and enables the Embassy or loved ones to contact you in an emergency.
Tip #3: Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travelers’ Health page.
Traveling to Italy, Indonesia or Japan this Spring? Read up on the measles outbreaks in those countries and how to avoid contracting the disease. Find the health notices related to the recent cyclone in southern Africa. Or at a minimum, learn what vaccinations may be required before you take off.
Tip #4: Find out what you can and cannot bring.
Some countries have restrictions about the medications or medical equipment you can bring with you. Visit your destination country’s embassy website for specific rules and regulations.
Tip #5: If you aren’t sure what you’re eating or drinking – don’t.
One of the easiest ways to find yourself ill-at-ease on a trip is eating or drinking foods you’re unused to, or washed with contaminated water. The CDC recommends, “Boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it!”
There is no reason you and your loved ones can’t enjoy your trip but with a little preparation, you have even better odds of making it roundtrip with minimal health effects.