How to pack for a healthy trip
January 29, 2019
To travel with peace of mind, pack wisely.
You can minimize overseas surprises by packing a basic travel health kit.
You can’t take your medicine cabinet with you when you travel, so what should you bring? Apart from your travel documents, your sunscreen (or your earmuffs) and your camera, what should you pack in a basic travel health kit?
Things you absolutely should pack include:
- Your prescription medications, both the ones you usually take and any you are taking while you travel to a particular country or countries.
- Some basic over-the-counter remedies, including antidiarrheal tablets, antacid, pain relievers, decongestant and motion sickness medications.
- Basic first-aid items, such as bandages, antiseptic and cotton-tipped applicators.
- A water bottle that you can refill before boarding any flights, train trips or long road trips.
Things you might be glad you brought include:
- Hand sanitizer
- Insect repellent
- Water purification tablets
- Sedatives or a mild sleep aid
- A bicycle helmet if you might rent and ride
Are you going somewhere where Zika flourished? Where there have been Ebola outbreaks? Where tropical insects carry disease? If you’re going someplace where you aren’t sure of the health risks, your first stop should be the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Traveler’s Health page.
There, you can type in your destination and see the agency’s recommendations for pre-trip vaccines. For example, type in “Belize,” and learn that, in addition to making sure all your routine vaccines such as tetanus, flu and polio should be up to date, the CDC also advises “most travelers” to also get, at this writing, the Hepatitis A and typhoid vaccines. “Some travelers,” depending on their age, health histories and other factors, should also consider getting shots for Hepatitis B, rabies and yellow fever.
You can get similar advice from a travel health clinic or from your Swedish provider. To find a Swedish provider near you, consult our online directory.
Your choices about what to pack in a travel health kit is largely a matter of preparation. And to be prepared, you should learn what to expect.
Take a look, for example, at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Pack Smart” page.
Also consult the U.S. State Department’s country-specific pages for the latest updates and advisories. In addition, consult the State Department’s “Your Health Abroad” pages, which provide guidance about finding a health care provider, dealing with insurance and minimizing the risk of diarrheal disease, and many other issues.
Also, the World Health Organization has a resource page for travelers, covering subjects from foodborne disease, ultraviolet radiation and safe food.
If you plan ahead and take sensible precautions, you’ll have less to worry about when you’re on the road. That will help you enjoy your trip. Pack smart, travel well and have fun!
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.