Health care is an essential part of preparing to travel. We will share our personal health care mistakes and tips with you so you can plan better and stay safe on the road.
Your health care when travelling
We care about you and so does your mum.
Staying fit and healthy on your travels simply means you can fully enjoy your adventures and not be limited by illnesses or worse.
It’s essential that you spend a little time focusing on travel health care now to set you up for some future happy travels.
DISCLAIMER: We are not medical professionals and don’t claim to be. Our advice is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice a qualified health care provider regarding a medical condition or treatment.
Do you need special injections or medication?
Travel to some areas of the world will mean getting special injections, pills or other precautions against potential diseases and viruses in those areas.
This may also depend on how long you are going to be staying in one area and how you will be travelling. The more rural you go the more likely you will need some form of medical protection.
Medication can be expensive, take time to complete or both. From personal experience we know this. Like fools we left it until less than 2 months before our travel date to investigate health information for our trip to South East Asia and nearly ran out of time to get our full courses of travel inoculations.
This meant we paid quite a lot for injections that we could have received at our local doctors surgery for free #TravelFail.
Research your health care right now
Therefore we urge you to check if you need any special medication for your destinations as soon as you know where you are going to be travelling.
Firstly, check out the NHS Fit for Travel website. Based in the UK it has a comprehensive searchable list of countries with full details about possible risks and medication required for each one.
Secondly, if your local doctor hosts a travel clinic like ours did then get yourself along there. Armed with the details on your destinations go for a consultation and see what medication your doctor thinks you need.
Also ask them about any costs and make sure they are for the total course as some meds may require 2 or 3 injections spread over several weeks.
Finally, check online for local private travel clinics. For us it was cheaper to get our Rabies injections at a private clinic than go via the NHS (local Doctor). Travel clinic websites should have a price list to give you an idea or give them a call to check.
We wouldn’t advise going straight for a ‘consultation’ at a travel clinic as they may try and convince you to take all possible injections/pills when some are not needed. Look for impartial advice first if possible so if you do go the private route you will only pay for the meds you need.
Health care risks vs costs
Note that some countries will require you to show a certificate to prove you have the appropriate vaccination or medications upon arrival. This will be flagged up as you go through the research mention above. Don’t risk being refused entry by not taking the required medication in this case.
Fully engage your common sense when researching medication for your travels. Some medications can be expensive and some may not be entirely essential for your chosen destinations.
It basically boils down to how cautious you are. If you spend any time looking online for advice you’ll find some people advising that they took every possible precaution going whilst other say they took nothing and were fine.
Just go with your gut and do what you think is enough to stay safe while on the road. You don’t want to spoil your travels or avoid places you’d love to visit because you feel medically vulnerable.
Stock up on your own medicines
If you are on any prescribed medications don’t forget to stock up on these before travelling. It may take a while to obtain larger quantities of any personal medical supplies so don’t leave it until the last minute to get them.
Charlie has very mild Asthma but stockpiled a few inhalers before setting off as a backup. The irony being that he’s not needed them at all in 3 months but they are always there just in case. Again it’s just peace of mind out there on the road.
General medical kit to pack
As well as being prepared with the recommended pills and injections make sure you pack some more general medical kit to keep you safe out there.
We compiled the following mini checklist of essentials before we started packing. This is in no way comprehensive list but it is enough for us to travel safely and deal with any minor ailments.
For General Travel
✓ Band-Aids (plasters)
✓ Small scissors
✓ Antiseptic cream (for cuts/scratches)
✓ Antihistamines (for bites)
✓ Anti-diarrhoea pills
✓ Rehydration sachets
✓ Paracetamol tablets
✓ Hand sanitiser
✓ Tea tree oil (for bites)
✓ Ibuprofen (reduce pain/inflammation)
For Hot/tropical climates
✓ Mosquito Net
✓ Moisturiser (aftersun)
The vast majority of places around the world will have pharmacies where you can pick up health care supplies locally, which will helpfully save weight in your pack.
- Spend time on health care prep now to help travel safely later
- Use the resources mentioned to find out what medications you may need
- Don’t delay in doing this, a course of injections can take several weeks
- Weigh up the health care costs vs the necessity of the suggested meds
- Stockpile any prescribed medications so you can take a supply with you
- Think about what other medical kit you will need to take with you
- Remember that you can nearly always find a pharmacy to buy supplies on the go
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