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Have a Safe Trip!

Some simple steps can ensure a trouble-free vacation

(HealthDay is the new name for HealthScoutNews.)

SATURDAY, June 14, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- No matter where in the world you're traveling or what type of weather you anticipate when you arrive, it's a good idea to plan ahead to ensure a safe and healthy journey.

Although it's true that most travel involves some risk to health and safety, whether you're going around the block or around the world, these threats can be minimized by paying attention to important details. For example, here are some tips from the Medical College of Wisconsin:

  • 1. Pack the right clothing for the trip and for your destination. Within the United States, there can be enormous variations in the daily temperature. When it's 90 degrees in Texas, folks in Michigan's Upper Peninsula may already be enjoying their first hard freeze or snowfall. Before you pack, check out the average daily temperature and typical rainfall where you're going, as well as what weather and temperature you are likely to encounter along the way. Experts recommend packing for comfort and health, as well as for style.
  • 2. Bring along your prescriptions or any other medications or health products you use on a regular basis. Travel often interrupts a person's daily schedule, but it's important to take all medications on the same schedule your body is accustomed to -- no matter where in the world you are. Review your supply of medication carefully and make sure you have enough for the whole trip. If you will run out of a medication while you're gone, ask your doctor or pharmacist about getting enough to last -- or make a plan for how you can get a refill at your destination.
  • 3. Make sure the food and water are safe. Most communities in the United States have safe food and water, but if you're traveling internationally it's not unusual to encounter contaminated supplies of both. Traveler's diarrhea is often caused by food- or water-borne microorganisms in tropical climates, as are many other illnesses. Make it a part of your international travel plans to assess water and food supply quality, and take along what you'll need to respond to the circumstances where you're going.
  • 4. Be sure your immunizations are up to date. Typhoid, cholera, yellow fever and many other illnesses are common in popular international travel destinations. Check your medical records and make certain you have all the recommended immunizations for the countries you'll be visiting. If you don't, get them a month in advance, to ensure that your trip isn't interrupted by minor vaccination side effects.
  • 5. Prepare for the amount of sunshine where you are going. Even if your travel plans are focused on getting a great tan, make sure you take along sunscreen protection that's appropriate for the amount of ultra-violent light at your destination. Take along other forms of sun protection, too, such as hats or scarves, if you're going to be out sightseeing or involved in other outside activities for most of the day. You don't have to be at the beach to get a painful, dangerous sunburn.
  • 6. Be ready for the unexpected. Make sure your travel companions and others at your destination have current medical information about any chronic medical needs -- including allergies -- you may have, and the medications you customarily require. If you often need special care, carry a card with specific instructions on it, and keep it in an easy-to-locate place. Include the name of your physician and any instructions someone who doesn't know you very well would need. In an emergency in an unfamiliar city, such instructions can help save your life.
  • More information

    For other good tips on travel, check with the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCE: Medical College of Wisconsin HealthLink, Travel Medicine Section
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