Most trips start with the fun stuff: daydreaming about where to go, where to stay, and what to see.
That early planning usually doesn’t usually include finding out if your destination has a measles outbreak or not—but if you’re leaving the country, that sort of thing should be on your radar. Certain rare diseases, like measles, pose a greater elsewhere than they do here in the United States.
That’s why—after you renew your passport but before you start packing—it’s time to think about travel vaccines (and immunization boosters) as well as other essential to-dos to make sure your health is protected while you’re abroad.
Keep reading to get specific tips for planning a healthy vacation.
Just as you wouldn’t take a road trip without checking your car’s oil, filling your tires, and topping off your gas tank, you shouldn’t take an international trip unprotected either.
Whether you’re thinking about soaking up the sun on a relaxing beach getaway or embarking on an excursion to explore a few overseas destinations, there are several pre-travel healthcare tasks you need to take care of before departure:
- arranging travel insurance,
- getting all necessary travel vaccines,
- renewing essential prescriptions, and
- building a travel first-aid kit
Did you know even thinking about travel boosts happiness? Though the stress of trip-planning makes some people anxious, looking forward to prospect of vacationing and exploring new places improve most people’s mental health, according to psychologists and researchers.
Travel insurance and health emergencies
Getting injured or sick during international travel is never on most people’s minds when planning their vacation. Even if you have US-based health insurance, you may not be covered if you get sick when traveling.
If you are already looking into travel insurance options to protect your trip investment, make sure the option includes medical and dental benefits that might cover the costs of emergencies during your vacation.
Many different factors—from age to pre-existing medical conditions—can affect your health when you vacation. It’s easier to assess what sort of travel insurance coverage you might need if you have recently seen a doctor. We recommend making an appointment to see your provider at least one month before your international trip to:
- get questions answered about immunizations (and schedule a time to get your needed travel vaccines)
- renew your prescriptions that are due, and
- find out which other over-the-counter medicines, if any, you may need for your trip
Immunizations for travel
Vaccines are a preventative medicine taken for protection.
Each vaccine is different in how it teaches your immune system to fight specific bacteria and viruses that cause dangerous and contagious diseases. Simply put, vaccines give your body the tools it needs to fight specific infectious pathogens and help you stay healthy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classify travel vaccines as:
- routine vaccines (basic immunizations everyone should get),
- recommended vaccines (preventative immunizations you should ideally get to protect yourself from illness), and
- required vaccines (must-have immunizations required by the country or countries that you’re planning to visit)
Recommended and required travel vaccines
Even if you’re up-to-date on routine immunizations, you still need to see your healthcare provider about the vaccines necessary for a safe vacation. The travel vaccines you will need to get will depend on your medical history, what you plan to do, and where you are going.
Don’t wait until the last minute to get your immunizations. For complete protection against diseases, you need to get more than one dose. For others, you may need to give them a little time to ensure they “kick in” entirely before you leave.
Check the CDC’s website to learn more about recommended and required travel vaccines. Keep in mind that some immunizations, like the yellow fever vaccine, are only available at authorized US yellow fever vaccine centers. Note: there are only 43 currently open across the state of Indiana.
Need your COVID-19 shot before traveling? Anyone age 12 and older may now schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment at Logansport Memorial Hospital. Walk-ins are welcome. Prefer to schedule in advance?
Select a time to get your shot at ourshot.in.gov or by calling (866) 211-9966.
Prescriptions and other medications
In addition to seeing your doctor about travel vaccines, it’s vital to get any needed prescriptions filled before you take your vacation.
If possible, keep your prescriptions and other medication in their original packaging to avoid potential problems at airports and speed up the TSA screening process.
Though not required, hauling your medicines this way instead of in a pill case or baggy can potentially limit delays and reduce the need for additional questioning at security checkpoints. For instance, this is especially true if you’re bringing controlled substances or pain medications along with you on your trip.
Travel first-aid kit
When it’s time to start packing, don’t forget to leave room in your luggage for a first-aid kit.
You don’t need to include items for every scenario to be prepared on your vacation. Just think about the essentials that make sense for your medical needs and itinerary. Then, build a customized travel first-aid kit based on those needs.
Some standard must-haves for travel first-aid kits include:
- Anti-diarrhea medicine
- Antiseptic wipes
- Ibuprofen or acetaminophen
- Motion sickness medicine
Get ready for your vacation at Logansport Memorial Hospital
Need to see a doctor before international travel?
Request an appointment to check in with your family medicine provider to start planning your travel vaccines and more.
Looking for a new primary care provider?
Our care coordinators can help you navigate the tricky process of choosing a physician who is right for you.
Call (574) 725-3463 and leave a voicemail to be matched with a provider who is right for you.