Preparing Your Health for a Trip Abroad

Dr. Angela Seabright
Maranda Doney

| 4 min read

woman in front of ruined building traveling
In 2015, more than 72 million Americans traveled abroad.
If you’re planning a trip, you’ve probably heard plenty of information about passports, dream locations and clothing choices, but have you planned to protect your health? There are plenty of resources available for Americans traveling internationally.
Follow these tips to ensure an enjoyable and safe trip.

Be Informed

  • U.S. Embassy: There are hundreds of U.S. embassies and consulates throughout the world that are able to assist Americans when traveling abroad with any emergency, including health situations. You can visit this website to find the nearest embassy or consulate near the city or cities you will be visiting. Typically they are located in the capital of the country. It is recommended to take note of the address and contact information.
  • Smart Traveler Enrollment Program: This free program allows you to register your trip with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate closest to your travel destination. By doing so you will be able to receive important information regarding your safety for the time you are in a certain country. It will also make it easier for the U.S. Embassy to contact you in case of an emergency, including natural disasters or family emergencies. Enroll by visiting this website.
  • Current Happenings: It is important to stay up-to-date with any health concerns that may be happening in a region before traveling abroad. By being informed about recent outbreaks and common diseases, it can help you to prevent against them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer a tool to help you find out about the current travel health notices of each country, as well information on how to care for your health before, during and after a trip.
  • Prescription Drugs: Keep your prescription drugs in their original container with a letter from your physician that lists your prescribed medications. If you are concerned about not being able to bring medications into a country, check with the foreign embassy of that country prior to the trip.

Prevent the Possibilities

  • Immunizations: Before any international travel it is best to check that all your immunizations are current. When doing this, you can also check to see what immunizations are needed for travel to certain countries. The immunizations you may need depend on where you are traveling, your activities while on the trip, the state of your health and your vaccination history. Visit the CDC’s website to find more information for every country.
  • Insurance Coverage: It is important to know the difference between travel insurance and travel medical insurance. Travel insurance, which is typically offered with your plane ticket, insures your financial investment in the trip, such as the cost of a cancelled flight or lost baggage. Travel medical insurance helps to cover the cost of medical attention that may be needed while traveling outside of the country. Be sure to check if your insurance plan includes care when traveling abroad, so that you can be aware of the potential cost if you do need to seek medical attention. If you are planning an extended stay, then some insurance companies even offer plans for that, which include coverage for doctor visits, hospitalizations, prescriptions and emergency medical evacuations. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan offers GeoBlue– a plan that offers the same comprehensive care with a network of doctors in 180 countries.
  • Know Your Limits: Injuries while on vacation are common because individuals tend to push themselves, or take part in activities that they normally would not. Make sure to know what your body, mind and immune system can handle when traveling to avoid injury and illness. Always make sure to listen to your body and make time for rest. While it can be tempting to stay active all day and sleep very little while traveling, it is important to maintain a proper sleep schedule to strengthen your immune system.
  • Returning Home: In the weeks following your return home, pay attention to any symptoms that may appear. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, call to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician.
Do you have any tips for maintaining good health while traveling abroad? Share below in the comments.
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Photo Credit: Hamza Butt

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
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