Maybe you’ve been planning your summer getaway since winter — you’ve purchased your plane tickets, you’ve reserved a place to stay, and you’ve got your swimsuit packed. There may be a few things remaining on your “to do” list to ensure you have a healthy and safe vacation.
“One of the most important things for people to remember while planning to go on summer vacations, particularly if you’re going out of the country, is to make sure you have with you the prescription drugs that you need,” said Ashley Crowe, a Family Medicine Nurse Practitioner at Theda Care Physicians-Neenah. “Ensure that you have any needed prescriptions refilled so you have enough while away, and always carry them in their original containers. Medications without labels may be confiscated by customs.”
She also noted that it is recommended to carry prescriptions in a carry-on bag, never pack them in your checked luggage, as sometimes checked bags get lost or delayed.
“You don’t want to be without your prescription medication, particularly if you’re going abroad, where it may be more difficult to refill those medications,” Crowe said.
Preparing Ahead of Your Vacation
Leading up your vacation, it’s also a good idea to schedule an appointment with your health care provider at least a month or two before you travel to ensure you have any needed vaccinations or oral medications for the region where you’re vacationing, Crowe said.
“If you haven’t already received the COVID-19 vaccine, you should get it or the most recent booster whether you’re planning to travel domestically or abroad,” Crowe said.
While most airlines have dropped COVID-19 pandemic masking requirements, the virus is still present and active. Some countries may still have pandemic-related restrictions and require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 tests before entry. Travelers can check the State Department’s website on country-specific COVID-19 information before traveling.
Depending where you’re traveling, you may need to receive other vaccines or boosters such as Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), influenza, chicken pox, cholera, Hepatitis A/B, rabies, typhoid or yellow fever.
“It’s really dependent on the country where you’ll be traveling and the areas you’ll be visiting,” Crowe said. “That’s why it’s important to let your health care provider know if you’re planning travel abroad.”
If someone needs a primary care provider, ThedaCare offers many options to help people connect with providers. Those searching for a provider can view the ThedaCare provider directory. You can search for physicians by name or specialty, finding basic information such as credentials, education, clinic locations and more.
Children who are traveling should be updated on all their routine vaccinations, and they should be watched carefully for any changes in their health while traveling, particularly if they’re too young to talk about how they’re feeling, Crowe said.
“The most common health issue kids experience while traveling is diarrhea, and that can lead to dehydration,” Crowe said. “Ensure your kids get plenty of fluids, and if they seem dehydrated, develop a fever or have bloody stools, you should seek local medical attention.”
Travelers, especially those vacationing with kids, should have a plan for where and how to seek medical attention should the need arise. Cruise ships have medical facilities aboard, and international resorts and hotels should have local contacts for medical providers nearby. Know the emergency number for the country in which you are traveling.
Traveling with a health kit that includes your prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, sanitizer and wipes, extra masks, band-aids, electrolyte drink powder, and other items is a good idea, she said. Insect repellent is important to have on your trip as mosquitos and other pests can carry diseases including West Nile virus, encephalitis, malaria and the Zika virus. Sunscreen also is a must.
“People living in Wisconsin may forget that if they travel south, it’s easier to get sunburned faster as the sun’s rays become more intense,” Crowe said. “You should use sunscreen outdoors no matter where you’re traveling.”
Bringing sun-protective hats and clothing can help you avoid sunburn, as can wearing lightweight clothing with long sleeves and pants. If sunburn occurs, cooling the skin with cold compresses or cold water can help, as can over-the-counter gels, moisturizers or lotions, Crowe said.
“Getting a bad sunburn or stomach bug while traveling can ruin an otherwise beautiful vacation,” Crowe said. “Taking a few extra precautions and planning ahead can help you avoid a lot of the common issues you can encounter on a trip.”
Another thing to check if you’re leaving the country: Your health insurance may not cover your medical expenses while traveling abroad, so it’s important to call your insurance provider to see what your health coverage allows. If your insurance provider doesn’t offer a travel option, there are plenty of providers offering short-term travel insurance policies, usually with a one-time premium based on benefits and length of time you’re traveling.
For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health and well-being of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 600,000 residents in 17 counties and employs approximately 7,000 health care professionals. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including eight hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their unique, best lives. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts about a patient’s care. ThedaCare is proud to partner with Children’s Wisconsin and Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network to enhance convenient access to the most advanced levels of specialty care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care.