Planning ahead is the key to staying healthy during overseas travel. Many serious health risks can be avoided by careful preparation and visiting your doctor to check if any vaccinations are needed.
- Make up or buy a small medical kit.
- Take sufficient quantities of your regular medication with an explanatory letter from your doctor.
- Find out if the local water is safe. If in doubt, drink boiled or bottled water and avoid ice cubes.
- Find out how to avoid contaminated food and know how to treat travellers’ diarrhoea if you get it.
- In tropical areas, know how to prevent mosquito bites and ask your doctor if you need malaria tablets.
- Reduce your risk of thrombosis (blood clots) on long flights with plenty of fluids, exercises & compression stockings.
- Know about the risks from unsafe sex.
- Be prepared for ear pain on flights, jet lag, motion sickness and altitude sickness.
- Take out travel insurance.
Vaccine preventable diseases
See your GP for a check-up at least 6-8 weeks before you depart to discuss your needs. Vaccines take time to work and some need a course over a period of weeks.
Some of the more common vaccine preventable diseases are:
- Hepatitis A & B
- Yellow fever
- Japanese encephalitis
Make sure your routine immunisations are also up to date. Infections such as measles, mumps and diphtheria are not common in Australia but may be caught overseas.
Flu vaccination should be considered if travelling in the northern hemisphere winter.
Where to get travel health info
Travel advice can change quickly. Do some research before your trip and then discuss your itinerary with your doctor.
Smartraveller (www.smartraveller.gov.au) is a federal government site that provides the latest health and safety advice for Australian travellers.
Myvaccination (www.myvaccination.com.au/travel.aspx) is a new website providing good quality, easy to understand travel information. Select countries on the interactive map and find out about the diseases found there. Print out the report and take it to your doctor.
The US Centre for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov/travel) and the World Health Organisation (www.who.int/ith/en) also have comprehensive travel websites.
fit2travel is a free iPhone app for people on the move. It features an interactive map showing recommended vaccinations for each country. It also has disease information and a wide range of travel advice and health tips.
The Myvaccination website & fit2travel iPhone app are initiatives of GlaxoSmithKline Australia.
Please note this information was correct at time of publication.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.