Headed overseas for months? 7 Strategies to stay well on an extended trip July 11, 2013 By Caitlin Bradford Leave a Comment 7 tips to stay well on an extended trip: Get a pre-travel checkup. Get vaccinated. Prevent mosquito-borne illnesses. Practice safe weather habits. Stay hydrated and use a water purification kit when necessary. Avoid hazardous situations. Remain aware of surrounding medical facilities. Traveling abroad for several months at a time can be a great way to explore other countries and cultures without the expense and hassle of planning separate trips from home. Additionally, many international business travelers will find themselves stationed overseas for months at a time. Such international travelers and expats may find themselves concerned about how they can maintain their health while being away from the amenities of home for so long. Fortunately, here are seven tips travelers can follow for optimal health. 1. Pre-travel Checkup Before embarking on travel to exotic lands or on an extended overseas business assignment, visit a travel clinic for a pre-travel physical examination. This is a key way to identify preexisting medical conditions so that travelers can ensure they are traveling abroad with a clean bill of health. 2. Vaccines Many tropical and remote locations pose unique health risks, and some countries even require certain vaccines. Yellow Fever, Measles, and Typhoid Fever are examples of diseases that are largely unknown or have been eradicated in the US but are still a serious health concern abroad. A visit with a travel health specialist, however, will allow for thorough understanding of public health concerns and vaccination requirements for all countries on a traveler’s itinerary. Your travel medicine professional will ensure that travelers have received all the vaccinations they will need for their trip. 3. Preventing Mosquito-Borne Illness Malaria and other illnesses that are carried by mosquitoes are still very much a concern in much of the world. Antimalarial drugs are key to avoiding contracting malaria. Travel health specialists are well-versed in the nuances of anti-malarial drugs and will help travelers to make the right choices to reduce the potential of encountering a medical emergency or getting sick on an extended overseas trip. The very best way to avoid mosquito-borne illness is to avoid being bitten. Travelers should always use mosquito repellent in areas that are designated as having a malaria risk. Sleeping under a mosquito net may also be necessary in remote regions. Travelers who go abroad for a long time tend to relax precautions the longer they are in country. However, malaria is a serious concern, so be sure to stay vigilant. 4. Safe Weather Habits Always remember to apply sunblock and avoid excessive sun exposure. Indeed, heat sickness and skin cancer are serious matters, and are even more of a concern if your extended trip takes you close to the equator. Sunblock with a minimum of SPF 30 should be worn whenever skin is exposed to the sun. Waterproof sunblock may be idea for travelers who anticipate sweating or swimming. On extremely hot, humid days, strenuous activity in direct sunlight should be avoided. 5. Drinking Water Remaining hydrated is extremely important, especially when traveling to hotter climates. Travelers must always know the status of the drinking water in their location to avoid sickness. When in doubt, water should be boiled, or a purification kit may be used. If using a purification kit, knowing which pathogens are removed by the purification mechanism of choice is essential. Again, even if you are staying in a foreign destination for an extended period of time, it is crucial you do not relax proper water safety precautions so that you are not unnecessarily exposed to disease. 6. Avoid Hazardous Situations Oftentimes, staying safe is a matter of exercising what many consider to be common sense. Although extended vacations are about being adventurous and really getting to know the local culture, travelers should avoid obvious hazards that can lead to injury, illness, or death such as swimming in contaminated waters or venturing into public demonstrations. Safety laws and guidelines should be obeyed. If participating in a new sport or activity, choose to do so with an experienced guide who is certified. 7. Remain Aware of Surrounding Medical Facilities In the event that an injury occurs, or if pain killers or other medications are needed, knowing the locations of the nearest medical facilities and pharmacies can be helpful. Be sure to map this out shortly after you arrive, so that you have a handy resource for your time abroad. By following these simple guidelines, traveling abroad for an extended period will be a fun, safe, and healthy experience.