Planning a holiday over the summer months? Take these steps to stay well and protect yourself from illness while travelling.
- Visit your doctor, ideally at least 8 weeks before you leave. Discuss whether you need to take any medications or have any vaccinations before you travel. This can help to protect you against infectious diseases you might be exposed to during your travels, such as malaria, dengue fever and the flu.
- Be informed. Find out more about the location you are travelling to, including the weather, geography, availability of safe drinking water and the health services and facilities available.
- Take out travel health insurance. If you incur any health costs while travelling overseas, these are not covered by Medicare, so it’s important to obtain travel insurance that covers you for illness or injury while you are away. Check the wording of your policy carefully to ensure you have the cover you need, especially if you have a pre-existing health condition.
- Pack a first-aid kit. Include things like pain medications, antiseptic lotion, cotton wool balls, band-aids, SPF 30+ sunscreen and insect repellent. Your doctor may also recommend taking some antibiotics to use if you get gastroenteritis and are unable to access medical care.
- Prepare regular medications. If you take regular medications, make sure you have enough to last throughout your travels, as these may not be readily available (or could be expensive to purchase) in other countries. All medications should be left in their original packaging and clearly labelled with your name and dosage instructions. It’s also a good idea to take a letter from your doctor, outlining the medications you take and how much you will be taking with you. If you use injectable medications, also make sure you pack enough needles and syringes, and ensure that the need for these is included in the letter from your doctor.
- Stay well in-flight. Stay well hydrated and exercise your leg muscles regularly while on a long-haul flight to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
- Keep safe. If the food and water quality is poor in the places you are travelling, this can put you at risk of infectious diseases, including gastroenteritis. Stay safe by using bottled water to drink and clean your teeth, and avoiding ice in drinks. Also avoid uncooked foods, including salads and fruit that you can’t peel. Practice good personal hygiene and wash your hands regularly.
For more information
For more information on staying well when you travel, visit:
- The Smartraveller website by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
- The Travel Health Information page from the Department of Health
- Australian Government Department of Health, Travel Health Information
- Health Direct, Travel Health Advice