Top Ten Health Tips for International Travel


  1. Get advice from a travel health professional. Four to six weeks before departure, consult a travel medicine specialist for the most up-to-date immunization, malaria recommendations and consultation to prepare for a safe and healthy trip. It’s important to get your immunizations early, as some of the vaccines take time to effectively protect you.
  2. Protect yourself from disease-bearing insects. Wear protective clothing and use products containing 20 to 30 percent DEET, the insect-repellent permethrin and bed nets.
  3. Never go barefoot, even on the beach.
  4. Make sure your water is purified. Do not use tap water when brushing your teeth.
  5. Consume only well-cooked food. Fruits and veggies? Peel it, boil it or forget it!
  6. Pre-fill your prescriptions, as they may not be available at your destination. Take extra, in case your trip is extended. In some countries counterfeit medications can be a problem. Carry medications in their original packaging and pack in your carry-on luggage.
  7. Don’t swim in rivers, lakes, ponds or streams. Well-chlorinated pools and salt water are usually considered safe.
  8. Take a basic first aid kit. Include medications for pain relief, such as ibuprofen and Tylenol, topical preparations for minor skin wounds and infections, and medications for allergic reactions (like Benadryl). Consider presumptive treatment (Imodium and an antibiotic) for traveler’s diarrhea. Discuss the appropriate antibiotics for your destination with a travel health specialist.
  9. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of medical problems among tourists. Avoid riding motorcycles or wear a helmet, and don’t drink and drive. Wear a seat belt and only travel during daylight hours.
  10. Purchase travel insurance that includes emergency medical evacuation. Most medical insurance plans aren’t accepted when you travel internationally.

As told by Michelle Reesman, R.N., Executive Director for Passport Health Colorado. Ressman holds a certificate in Travel Health from the International Society of Travel Medicine, and is an avid traveler, outdoors enthusiast, a certified sailboat captain and holds advanced scuba diver certification. She has worked in medicine more than 20 years.

About Melody Demel

Melody is Senior Manager, PR for Boingo Wireless, where she is responsible for media relations, brand building and thought leadership initiatives. Melody is a die-hard Nebraska Cornhuskers fan and retired NCAA DI college field hockey player.
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