Trip Health Advice

by Lissie

Planning for the trip of a life time? Or just a 10 day overseas vacation? Check out these health tips before you leave home.

Before heading off on the trip of a life-time or even of a few weeks there are few health issues you should consider. Many travellers either don't take sensible precautions, or go completely over-the-top. Remember the most dangerous part of your trip is probably the drive to the airport!

Pre Trip Health Tips

The most common problems on holiday are to do with too much sun and too much booze. Particularly if you are heating the beaches somewhere warmer, don't under-estimate just how much damage the sun can do to you. Fall asleep for a few hours on an Australian beach and you will wake up in hospital with third degree burns and possible sun stroke. Invest in some decent quality suntan lotion before leaving home. SPF30 is usually recommended for fair skins. 

Trip Health Advice for a Longer Trip

Going on your RTW or to study or volunteer abroad? Then here a few other items for pre-depature health check list

  • Have a dental check up. Routine dentistry is not covered by your travel insurance, and you don't want to waste vacation time on a trip to the dentist! 
  • If you have glasses or contacts make sure you have a copy of your prescription with you. If you are so blind you can't function without your glasses a spare pair or contacts are also a good idea. However in many parts of the world particularly Asia and India glasses and contacts are LOT cheaper than in the West so take the opportunity to have some spares made.

Trip Health Resources

CDC Travel Clinics
For Americans - check for travel clinics in your state

FCO Travel Advice
Health and other Foreign Office warnings from the UK government

The International Vaccination Yellow Card

Get one and keep it as a record
The Yellow Card or Carte Jaune, is an international certificate of vaccination. It is issued by the World Health ...

Vaccinations for Developing Countries

Your local Travel Doctor will have the current WHO list of recommended and required vaccinations for every country in the world. It is rare for a vaccination to be compulsory but yellow fever is for parts of Africa and South America. Meningitis is compulsory for travel to Saudi Arabia during the Haj.

Highly recommended vaccinations

Be up to date on your tetanus diphtheria, measles and polio shots. These diseases are still more common in the third world than in the est. A flu shot is also generally recommended. Even if you are travelling at home these are routine shots that everyone should have. 

Recommended Vaccinations for most non-Western Countries

Hepatitis A and B Is transmitted thru contaminated food and water. Within the last 10 years a reliable effective vaccine is available for Hepatitis A and B. If you have both shots within 6 months immunity is at least 10 years and probably life. Hepatitis is a nasty disease which can make you ill for up to 6 months and can permanently damage the liver and can prevent you from drinking alcholoh for at least 6 months so is well worth avoiding. This shot can be combined with the anit-viral for Hepatitis B which is transmitted via bodily fluids and blood.

Trip Health and Safety: Mosquitos

Mosquitos are not just an annoyance, they can be fatal in some parts of the world as they carry both malaria and dengue fever. 

Anti Malarials

Malaria is endemic in large parts of the tropical world. There are number of anti-Malarial drugs available which reduce, effectively to zero, the chance of getting the fatal form of cerebral malaria. Unfortunately they are not 100% effective on non-fatal varieties of malaria.

Insect Repellant Use DEET 30%

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All Of These Countries Have Malaria &/or Dengue

Cape York, Australia
Cape York, Australia
Floating Village, Cambodia
Floating Village, Cambodia
Vientiane, Mekong Sunset, Lao
Vientiane, Mekong Sunset, Lao
China Beach, Vietnam
China Beach, Vietnam

Malaria is spread by mosquitoes which have become increasingly resistant to the anti-malarials available. The anti-malarial drugs are not without their side-effects either which range from rashes, sensitivity to sunlight and insomina and nightmares.

There is no cure or preventative for dengue fever, instead you should try the following remembering that dengue-bearing mosquitos tend to bite during the day, while their malarila-carrying cousins bite at sunset and night. 

  • sleeping under a mosquito net
  • wearing insect repellent containing at least 30% DEET
  • wearing long sleeves and trousers especially in the evening around sun set
  • wearing Permethrin treated clothing will kill mosquitoes and the chemical is remains effective for for approximately 6 months 

Permethrin Clothing and Sprays

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Columbia Men's Bug Shield Pant

About the Author

I'm Elisabeth Sowerbutts, I took my first trip when I was about 3 years old, and I haven't really stopped travelling since. I've been to every continent, except Antarctica, and done everything from backpacking to being a business traveller. I spent six months solo travelling through South America and another six months backpacking through India, Nepal and SE Asia. 

My partner didn't used to travel much but I've passed the bug onto him now. Our more recent adventures include Europe in the middle of winter, Thailand, and 35,000km's through Australia's outback. 

I've lived in England, Scotland, Canada and Australia, and currently I'm back home in New Zealand 

I write a popular travel tips blog called: Lis's Travel Tips

I've also published my first book on Vacation Packing: Save Your Back, Time and Money

Updated: 02/19/2012, Lissie
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BrendaReeves on 01/31/2012

I think I'll just stay home. lol Great article.

Lissie on 01/17/2012

The mozzie loves me - I had never realised how much - until I started travelling with my partner who gets about one bite to the 10 I get - and we are wearing the same repellent! Dengue sounds particularly nasty I must say!

Shaz on 01/17/2012

Some people underestimate the common mozzie. My nephew came home from Bali recently with Denge and was very ill for many weeks. Best to cover up and use that deet you recommended. Good advice!

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