Traveling abroad is one of the most fulfilling and exciting experiences you can have. Traveling can also be something you have to do for work, an event, or a special occasion like a destination wedding. Whether it’s a professional trip or for pleasure, it’s always good to get out of your comfort zone and experience a new place and new people. There are, however, some things to keep in mind. No matter how seasoned a traveler you are, there are many things to do before traveling abroad to ensure that you stay healthy while in a new place.
We’ve highlighted 10 of the most important things you should do before traveling abroad below. Read on to find out how to stay in tip-top condition while exploring the world.
1. Research Your Destination
Are you heading to New Zealand, Thailand, or Israel? Depending on where you’re going, you’ll want to do some research on a few things regarding health. For example, are there vaccinations you need to get before you visit? How is the healthcare system of that country? Should an emergency happen, will you be able to receive the medical attention you need?
We recommend reviewing CDC traveler health advisories, such as malaria endemic regions or other active health threats in the region of interest. See your doctor before travel with questions, or if malaria prophylaxis is recommended.
You never want to go to a new place blindly. Take steps to be as knowledgeable as possible about your options. If you know what city you’re staying in, check to see where the nearest hospital is. Look into what the emergency phone number is for the country. It’s even a good idea to find a drugstore nearby where you’ll be able to get Advil or cough drops. Just 10 minutes of research can go a long way.
2. Get Vaccinated
Make an appointment 3-4 weeks in advance of your trip. Ensure that you’re up to date on all your vaccinations such as tetanus and the yearly flu shot (if it’s the appropriate season). It would be a shame to get something that was preventable on your trip simply because you didn’t take the time to give your doctor a visit. Talk about a bummer!
What about those who know they’re up to date on vaccinations – do they really need to see their doctor? In that case, it depends on the country you’re visiting.
For example, for most western European countries: Canada, Japan, and the US, you probably won’t need any extra vaccinations. However, if you’re going somewhere in the tropics or Africa, you likely will. Malaria, yellow fever, typhoid, and rabies are common travel vaccinations for these countries. This, of course, is not remotely comprehensive, so be sure to do your own research and visit your doctor to get the most accurate information.
3. Refill Your Prescriptions
If you have existing prescriptions, be sure to get any necessary refills ahead of time so that you can pack them with you. No one wants to be caught in a foreign country without their medication. Whether it’s birth control, blood pressure medication, or even prescription allergy pills, be sure to take the time to sort them out thoroughly before you leave.
Don’t forget to review destination laws if you are travelling with prescription medication. Some countries do not allow entry with controlled substances, even with a prescription. Also, make sure all medications are in their original container with prescription attached.
4. Put Good Stuff in Your Body
In other words, eat healthy. It’s always good to eat healthy, but when you physically move your body from one country to another, you encounter all kinds of germs that you may not be prepared for. For example, hundreds of thousands of people go through airports every day, not to mention that many people don’t pay much attention to good hygiene. In a hub of activity that can’t be cleaned as often as necessary, keep that vitamin C flowing through you, just in case.
Bonus Tip: While on your trip, bring supplements to take as you go. You’ll likely be tired from being on the go, and of course, you should rest, but we know how easy it is to get carried away by the exciting new sights and things to do. Putting the right things into your body before and during your trip will help reinforce your body from travel-related maladies.
Some of the best supplements to take, other than Vitamin C, include:
- Activated charcoal tablets (to soak up chemicals that make your tummy unhappy and prevent absorption)
- Probiotics (good bacteria to keep your gut healthy, especially useful when eating spicy or unfamiliar foods)
- Melatonin (to help regulate your sleep, especially if you’re traveling to a place with a significant time difference)
Remember: check with your doctor to make sure these are safe for you to take.
That’s right. Pack a mini hand-sanitizer and reapply, and continue to reapply.
Many countries don’t have soap or sinks in bathrooms, especially if you’re not in a city building. You don’t want to get caught in that kind of a pickle with no way to clean your hands. In less extreme situations, it’s just a good idea to be prepared.
6. Stay Hydrated
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be shocked at how many of us are dehydrated on a regular basis. Before your trip, get into the habit of drinking a lot of water. Carry a water bottle around with you during the day and make a personal water-consumption goal for the day.
When you’re abroad, you’ll likely be walking a lot, especially if you’re a tourist. One of the things that can drain you without you even noticing is not having enough water. We’ve all been in a position where we’re trucking along and all of a sudden we get a headache, need to sit down or get extremely grumpy for no reason. Actually, there is a reason! Your body is telling you to hydrate. If you can get in the habit before you leave, it’ll be easier to remember to drink while you’re out and about abroad.
7. Protect Your Feet in Advance
Wear comfy shoes. Many people ignore this advice, but it’s a must for things to do before traveling abroad.
If you have a pair of shoes you know you’ll want to be walking around in, practice with them before the trip, especially if they’re new shoes. You can buy the best hiking boots on the market but if they’re not broken in, your feet will be very angry with you, and you’ll be mad at yourself, too.
Before your trip, wear your shoes around the house, to the grocery store, on your errands; Everywhere. The whole point is to make sure that when you’re abroad, you won’t be hurting early into the day’s explorations.
Be sure to regulate your sleep schedule as much as you possibly can before you leave. Get a full 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Starting a trip abroad not refreshed will make the traveling experience much harder the first couple days. Give yourself as much of a boost as you possibly can by starting ready for anything.
9. Create Your Own Travel Kit
You can interpret this as you see fit. Include not only your medications and simple first-aid supplies, but also things you think may make you feel more at home. Traveling light is usually the way to go for most people, but who says you can’t pack a couple of small comforts?
If you have a favorite snack or maybe a favorite token, pack it. A healthy mind often correlates with a healthy body. If you have something that makes you feel comfortable and at home, it’s worth it to bring to put your mind at ease.
Of course, now we say that, but really, traveling isn’t all too daunting if you’re prepared. Get your tasks out of the way early and sit back and relax. Avoid rushing around a day before your flight trying to get everything in order. Do it as early as possible, and you’ll thank yourself.
If you follow these steps, you’ll have a much higher chance of staying healthy and energized on your trip. Preparation almost always pays off, especially in terms of health. If you’re planning a trip, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for vaccinations or additional health recommendations for travel.