Traveling Abroad? Here's How Not to Get Sick


There’s nothing worse than getting sick on vacation—particularly when traveling outside the U.S.

While nothing can completely prevent you from falling ill when traveling, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk. Experts share the following  tips to stay healthy on your next summer vacation.

Tip 1: Visit Your Primary Care Doctor

Medical experts suggest getting a check-up from your primary care doctor roughly six weeks before your travel date, especially if you are leaving the U.S.

Not only do you want to make sure you are in good health, but your doctor can help you identify any necessary vaccinations you may need based on your destination.

“Getting the appropriate vaccination is important,” says Peter Kurzweil, an internist and founding member of HealthTap. “Some are routine, some are recommended, and some are required.”

If your doctor isn’t privy to what vaccinations you’ll need, Kurzweil recommends checking with the state and federal health departments or the Centers for Disease Control. “Since some vaccinations will only take effect four weeks after the injection, six weeks before is a good time to make that visit,” he says.

Tip No. 2: Research Beyond Top Attractions

Every country has different diseases travelers are at risk of contracting while visiting, so be sure to research and know what you could be exposed to and how to be safe.

Pediatrician Anatoly Belilovsky recommends travelers with chronic conditions identify and locate specific doctors and hospitals equipped to treat the illness. The hotel you are staying at may be a good resource to recommend a hospital or even a doctor who will make room visits. “If you are a diabetic you need to find somebody experienced in that in case you get into trouble,” says Belilovsky. “When you are sick in a strange country, it’s not the time to go looking for a doctor.”

Tip No 3. Carry a List of Your Medications 

It can be hard to remember all your prescribed and over-the-counter medications, so be sure to carry a list of all the names and dosages to avoid any issues.

“You need to include all allergies and sensitivities to certain things like bee stings,” says Kurzweil. He says some vacationers will even carry or wear medical alerts that indicate a chronic illness like diabetes or allergies.

Tip No. 4: Review Medical Insurance

Call your health insurance provider a few weeks before your departure date to learn if you have any coverage when traveling overseas. Most plans don’t offer coverage outside state and country lines, so you may want to consider taking out separate travel insurance.

Some credit card providers offer protection, so be sure to find out before leaving.

“If you are traveling abroad, it’s a good idea to think about having insurance coverage,” says Kurzweil.

Tip No. 5: Carry Extra Medication  

Make sure to pack extra medication in case you get delayed unexpectedly. Also be sure to pack medications in your carry-on in case your luggage gets lost, that way you wont have to scramble to find a pharmacy and a clothing store in a foreign place.

Experts also recommend packing a standard first aid kit to help with any blisters from walking and upset stomachs from foreign foods, which tend to be the most common ailments on vacations.