Health tips to help you prepare for your trip

Planning on escaping Calgary’s winter this year by going somewhere tropical or planning a trip in 2020? Besides packing your clothes, there are a few recommendations you should do before you grab your suitcase and hop on a plane. Many travelers don’t really consider the health risks that come with travelling. Vacations and trips are great experiences but can really go south from an unexpected injury or illness. You can do your part to ensure you are prepared for medical emergencies and help ensure that you and your family are healthy for your trip. Follow these health tips to help you prepare for your trip

Book a pre-trip consultation with your doctor

            Not many people know this, but your family doctor and travel clinics offer travel consultation appointments. This is where the doctor will make recommendations and inform you what vaccine shots you should get depending on the country you’re travelling to. It’s important to set some time for this travel consultation to protect you and your family from harmful diseases that are known in other countries. Your family doctor knows your medical history and what vaccines you already have, they can then recommend what other vaccines you should get. There is a fee to have a travel consultation with a doctor but it is highly recommended.

Get your immunizations shots

During your travel consultation with the doctor, they will recommend vaccine shots that you should get. Countries outside of Canada and the USA have harmful diseases and it is important to get vaccinated to protect and lower the risk of catching them. Diseases such as Hepatitis A and B, Malaria, Ebola, Zika virus are well known in foreign countries. Here’s a list of harmful diseases you should be aware of when travelling (Travel related diseases). Travel clinics and your family doctor will be able to provide most vaccines; some you will have to go to a pharmacy or the hospital. Unfortunately, these vaccines aren’t covered by AHS and will need to be paid for upon receiving them, however, Dr. Ahmed Abuhelala and here at Rockyview Medical Clinic will give some vaccines that are recommended during a travel consultation free of charge.

Buy Travel Insurance

Buying travel insurance can help save you from a hefty medical bill. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.  Travel insurance ensures that you receive the care you need in emergency situations without worrying about the bill. If you or a family member happens to get sick or injured and need medical attention, travel insurance will cover your expenses. Some urgent care clinics in other countries even offer direct billing. Some clinics require you to pay out of pocket to before seeing a doctor, but you can claim these expenses and your insurance will reimburse you (make sure you keep the receipts). Most travel insurance will even cover your missed flight, flight to come back, and accommodation expenses if extra time is needed due to your injury or illness.

Purchase a med kit

         Not all injuries or sickness need a medical doctor, the med kit will help with non-emergency medical issues. Purchase and pack a med kit in case of minor injuries and illnesses such as cuts, colds, and bites to help with the recovery. Your med kit should include important items like:
  • Bandages
  • Tweezers & scissors
  • after bite
  • cold and fever medications
  • diarrhea medications
  • alcohol wipes
  • thermometer
  • latex or vinyl gloves
Here’s a link of other recommended items you should have in your med kit (Link What you should have in your med kit).
All of these items are important to have to help prepare yourself with medical emergencies. Foreign med kits may not have all the recommended materials or may not be present in medical situations.

Pack essential items that can protect you

Everyone enjoys the sun on the face, but too much sun can expose your skin to harmful UV rays which can cause burns and skin cancer. It’s important to pack items such as sunglasses and sunscreen to help protect you. Packing bug spray can help reduce the risk of getting bit. Most bug bites will cause a bump and itchiness, however there have been cases where bugs are carrying harmful diseases like the Zika virus which causes symptoms like fever, rash conjunctivitis, muscle, and joint pain, and malaise or headache.  It’s also important to bring a water bottle to stay hydrated, but be sure that the country you’re travelling to has safe drinkable water. If you are planning to engage in sexual activity, practicing safe sex will decrease the risks of obtaining STIs or HIV/AIDS. Bringing condoms, taking showers before and after sex, and avoid sharing towels or underclothing can help prevent you from getting any STIs or diseases.

In conclusion

Travelling around the world is a great experience and everyone should if they ever get the chance to. But not preparing for medical emergencies will put you and your family in a terrible situation. Follow these health tips before travelling:
  • book a travel consultation with your family doctor
  • get your immunization shots
  • bring an emergency med kit
  • buy travel insurance
  • bring essential items that can protect you
Follow these health tips before you travel and you’ll have a safe and enjoyable trip, Safe Travels!