Ask Dr. Vieder – Healthy Travel Tips

We’re planning a family trip during the upcoming mid-winter school break. What are the best ways to prepare?

Plan ahead for delays, changes in weather or other emergencies. Place a small amount of your daily medications in a bottle for your carry-on bag that can take you through a two-day delay. Put your regular medication bottles with your checked baggage. Check the weather, consider that it may change, and bring clothes that allow for layering.

Bring good shoes for hiking and swim shoes for beach and water activities. Pack exercise clothes so that you can maintain your exercise routine in the hotel gym. If visiting somewhere with a high altitude, contact your physician for altitude sickness medication or see us at Lakes Urgent Care. Make sure that everyone is up to date on any needed vaccinations including the influenza vaccine. 

How can I keep the family from getting sick while we travel?

Check the local resources in the area where you are traveling to determine any particular health risks. In the Caribbean and Central America, be wary of mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika. In the African continent, Malaria is more prevalent. Prevention of both of these illnesses can be achieved by utilizing insect repellent containing at least 20% DEET. If you are sleeping in an outdoor environment, always use mosquito netting.  There is also an increased risk of contracting hepatitis when traveling to these same areas, so if you have not yet been vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B, we strongly recommend doing so.  Both of these vaccines are available at Lakes Urgent Care or through your primary care physician or local health department. Pay attention to the local news stations and weather forecasts during your visit, and avoid outdoor activities if severe weather conditions are expected.  Additionally, cold and flu-carrying pathogens cover many surfaces such as desks, door handles, and phones. Keep yourself protected by washing your hands with soap and water often or carrying a hand sanitizer with you at all times.

What should I do if a family member gets sick while we are out of town?

Be prepared before you leave. If traveling out of the country, find out exactly what your health insurance company will cover. Medicare does not cover hospital or medical costs outside of the United States so you will likely require a supplemental insurance plan or have to pay cash and then seek reimbursement. Contact the nearest US Embassy for a list of physicians and medical facilities that they recommended and trust. The US consulate can also be of assistance if you require the transfer of funds or require repatriation. Give strong consideration to purchasing a global medical transport insurance policy, such as MedJet Assist, that can help a sick family member that requires hospitalization.  There are several companies that offer reasonably priced family plans that can provide significant piece of mind if someone becomes ill outside of the country or more than 150 miles from home.