Traveling? See a doctor first

July 11, 2024

Importance of Travel Clinics When Taking a Trip

Bags are packed. Hotel is booked. Itinerary is planned.

Only thing left to do is…

Do your research and consider seeing a health care team if needed!

That’s right. If you’re taking a vacation with any risk at all, you should do your research and may need to schedule a visit to the travel clinic to make sure you’re ready in case of a health emergency.

Not for me, you might say. We’re not going to a dangerous place with unusual diseases. We don’t need to get any special shots.

But travel medicine is about much more than getting your shots (though it certainly includes that). It’s also about managing risky excursions, preparing for disease outbreaks of any kind, and planning for potential problems your current conditions might pose.

Let’s take a look at how best to use travel medicine before, during and after your trip.

Before your trip

Look up travel requirements for your destination. If needed, plan to schedule an appointment at least several months before your trip. This gives you plenty of time to go back for any shots or make changes to your itinerary based on what you learn.

There are many travel clinics out there, so make sure you’re choosing one with specialists who have years of experience providing quality care.

Friends who have used travel clinics in the past are a good place to get a recommendation. So is the internet.

Once you’re in the office, travel medicine providers will want to understand every aspect of your trip. Be ready to walk them through your itinerary and activities, including any day trips, multi-city jaunts and outdoor excursions.

They’ll use this information to uncover any potential risks to your health.

For example, the city where the hotel is might be perfectly safe, but do you know if the rural area where you’re going ziplining has had any recent disease outbreaks?

Or if your heart condition will cause you problems if you go through with that high-altitude hike?

A travel medicine specialist will know.

If you have chronic medical conditions, make sure you have enough medications to bring on your travels and talk to your primary care team to make any necessary adjustments ahead of time.

During your trip

It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Or sick.

Even while traveling, you need to be prepared for the worst, because if you or someone in your family has a health emergency, your next step might not be clear.

If you have a chronic medical condition, like diabetes or high blood pressure, a travel clinic and/or your primary care team will make sure you have a plan in case something happens.

Even if you aren’t living with any health conditions, it still pays to be ready.

Consider buying a travel medical insurance policy for your trip. This will help pay for any hospital stays that happen while you’re abroad – for instance severe diarrhea with fever or a leg fracture.

Medical evacuation insurance is also a good idea. These policies help cover the cost of getting from a remote location to one with better care services.

Whichever route you take, staying healthy during your trip means taking action before it.

After your trip

You’re not yet in the clear even after you’ve safely landed back home. Some tropical diseases, like malaria, can take weeks or even months to start showing symptoms.

Monitor your body and if you start noticing anything concerning, consider getting in touch with your travel clinic.

Even if you don’t have any symptoms, it’s still good to get screened if your trip is long or if you have concerns for exposure to diseases.

If at any point during your trip you think you might have been exposed to something, getting screened can help detect a problem before it’s had time to really make you sick.

Because at the end of the day, traveling is supposed to be fun. You don’t want a health emergency – especially one that could have been prevented – making your vacation memorable for all the wrong reasons.

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