Health Advocate Blog

Vacation safely: Avoid mishaps by being prepared

Whether your vacation plans include a back-roads camping trip or flying to an international destination, experiencing even a minor health mishap can ruin your well-deserved time-off! As you’re packing the right clothing and gear for the activities you plan to do, remember to follow these tips to help safeguard your health, ensuring a more enjoyable experience.

Before booking an international flight, get your doctor’s OK to travel to your destination. This is especially important if you have a chronic condition. Have your physician sign a note stating you’re being treated for a condition, listing your diagnosis.

Check health advisories for your destination and get any recommended vaccinations. Keep checking the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) site for any updates and health precautions.

For any trip, bring your health insurance cards and list of contacts/medications. Include the name and phone number of your doctor and pharmacy, any medical conditions or allergies, and the generic names of all prescription and over-the-counter medications as well as supplements. Include the dosages of each. If it applies, carry the name of the U.S. consulate in the country/region you’re visiting.

Give a copy of the list to your travel companion or someone back home. And if you have a medical condition, consider wearing a medical alert bracelet.

Bring along your prescribed or over-the-counter medications you usually take. This may include epinephrine, antacids, pain relievers, etc. Bring twice the amount you think you will need. Flying? Pack your medications in a carry-on bag, not in checked bags, and keep each medication in their original container. Check with your airline for specific rules.

Take along remedies for common ailments. This may include remedies for diarrhea, upset stomach, bug bites, sunburn, blisters or mild cuts, etc.

Carry items to help prevent health problems. Take along hand sanitizers, disinfectants and wipes to clean your hands and any surfaces you may come in contact with. Pack insect repellents, sunscreen and lip balm with sunscreen, and moisturizing eye drops. Consider keeping a supply of chewing gum handy for flight take-offs and landings—chewing gum can relieve air pressure build-up in your ears and sinuses.

Planning a road trip? Take your car for a tune-up. Check that the tires are properly inflated, hoses and belts work, and fluids are at proper levels.

Pack emergency supplies for your road trip. Bring a flashlight, flares, batteries, jumper cables, reflective devices, a spare tire and tools to change it, a jug of water and a blanket. Also, bring a detailed map! Cell phone reception may not always be reliable. 

Remember, no matter where your vacation plans may take you, be sure to ask your doctor about any health precautions you should take, especially if you have a medical condition.