Health conditions and concerns are no longer a reason to avoid traveling. However, travel planning and preparation to ensure a safe trip are essential. Even if you are completely healthy there are safeguards you need to take especially when traveling outside of the country.
First, if you are planning on going out of the country it is a good idea to check the Center for Disease Control website as much as 6 months before your date of departure. In this day and age with influenza it is better to be prepared. Their website, www.cdc.gov/travel, allows one to search your destination and has travel warnings including any current outbreaks of disease, any vaccines you should get before you leave, things to bring with you and any extra precautions to take while you are away.
Also, before you book a trip out of the United States, check the US State Department website at travel.state.gov to see if it is currently safe to travel in that region of the world. It may be a good idea to check this site again during the week before you leave to make sure the situation in the country has not changed and the risk level has not increased. A first aid kit containing pain relievers, (acetaminophen
or not-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) decongestants, antacids, and anti-diarrheal drugs often comes in handy.
Some common problems that can occur in transit include motion sickness, blood clots, ear and sinus pressure, sleep disturbance, dehydration, spread of infection, minor injuries, and anxiety. Be sure to be prepared to deal with these minor issues, some of which may require medication. If any of these symptoms persist after you return, see your doctor and be sure to mention your overseas travel. This can be a key element in making a proper diagnosis.
Check your health insurance policy before leaving the country to ensure you are covered in other areas. If you are covered verify how to get prior authorization, how to make a claim, and what is covered. It is important to note, Medicare does not cover the cost of any treatment given outside the United States. Also, domestic health insurance may not be accepted in foreign countries. You may be required to pay in full in cash before care is provided.
Travel Insurance may be a worthwhile investment, covering emergency care, transportation for care within foreign countries, transportation for care to the United States, medical equipment and personnel for transport, lost or stolen prescription drugs and even a medical translator. If you have a medical condition visit your doctor before you plan a trip to get approval and determine if any changes in your treatment should be made.
A letter stating any medical conditions, vaccines, current medications (generic medication names are more useful because brand names may differ by country) and dosages can be valuable in an emergency.
When packing for the trip, remember to leave all medication in the original bottles so they can be easily identified. Pack extra supplies of medication in a carry-on bag in case of a delay or loss of baggage.
Being prepared when traveling will make the trip run more smoothly and in the unfortunate event of an emergency, you will be prepared and know exactly what to do.