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Top 5 Health Precautions for International Travel

There are few trips as exciting as those that take you outside of your home country. When traveling internationally you are sure to experience a huge difference in language, food, culture and people. You’ll be inspired by new art, music and film, take in a climate that has very little in common with your home, and return with a wider worldview that will inform every single area of your life. Of course, travel like this requires some serious planning. And if you fall short you could physically feel the impact. There are always health concerns when you leave your native land, but with the right preparation you should have no problem acclimating and returning home in good shape. Here are the top five health precautions for international travel.

The first problem will arise before you ever set foot inside international territory. More people get sick thanks to the plane ride to and from their destination than ever do while actually on their trip. An airplane is a box of recycled air that is shared with hundreds of people. If anyone on board is sick you can bet you will be exposed. So make sure you take care of yourself before and during your flight. Get a good night’s sleep, and take a bunch of vitamins to boost your immunity. Drink plenty of water, and avoid alcoholic beverages that tax your system. Also make sure you get up and walk around every once in a while. Those long international flights are bad for your circulation.

Before you leave you must also make sure to receive the proper vaccinations. This isn’t something you often think about, but in other parts of the world disease is a constant danger. If you head to the tourism website of any country you should find a list of the vaccines you will need for travel. Some of these are required by law if you want to enter certain borders, while others are just good, common sense. If you’re heading to a third world country you should certainly go prepared, as medical facilities will be poor, and few and far between.

When on your trip, exposure can be a real health concern. In the hotter climates you’ll deal with temperatures far beyond what you are used to, and the bright sun near the equator can actually be deadly if you’re not prepared. Always bring proper clothing, as well as a good hat and sunglasses to minimize your exposure. Bring a quality sunscreen, and take the proper precautions to avoid dehydration.

Depending on where you’re traveling the water supply may not be appropriate for drinking. Even in civilized parts of the world water can bring dangerous parasites and exposure to disease. Don’t take it at face value, even if it looks crystal clear. Always drink bottled water if you aren’t sure, or carry a travel water purification system to be absolutely certain of what you’re drinking. Don’t forget the water in food as well. Raw vegetables will contain that same questionable water, so you might be better off skipping salads for cooked options.

Finally, look out for where you step! There will be all sorts of bugs on your international trip that you’ve never come across, and many of them can be quite troubling. Biting insects can carry lyme disease, West Nile virus or malaria, just to name a few of the potential ugly maladies. Even the best travel agents will acknowledge this very real problem. You can bring a net to sleep under and pack bug spray, but remaining aware of your surroundings may be your biggest support. Don’t forget closed-toed shoes as well, especially if you’re walking around somewhere that features heavy brush.