Countries have reopened, and the whole wide world is ready for you! You have booked that amazing trip, and you are ready to go. Almost, that is. Aside from getting together travel documents and other items you’ll need, you have to plan one extra stop: you need to make an appointment with your travel doctor. That’s true not only if you suffer from sleep apnea or are on oxygen therapy, or have another pre-existing condition. What is travel medicine, and why do you need to see a travel doctor? We have the answer!
What is travel medicine
Travel medicine is the field of medicine that is devoted to keeping us travelers not just healthy, but also safe. Obviously that’s our goal as travelers, and this is why you should see a travel doctor before you go on a trip. These doctors specialize in travel risk assessment. They will be bale to provide you with a plan to minimize all health risks while traveling. Preventative care is an important element of traveling. You don’t want to miss out on your fabulous all-inclusive beach resort vacation because you’ve been hit with Montezuma’s Revenge and have nothing to stop it!
See your travel doctor
Passport renewed? Check. Visa approved? Check. Travel blog e-mailed to friends and family? Check. Planning your around the world itinerary? Check. If you’ve made it this far in your plans, give yourself a pat on the back. However, there’s one more thing you want to add to your check list before you jet off on your international adventure, and that is a visit to your travel doctor. These specialized doctors know all about the requirements at your destination. For example, a specific vaccine may be suggested for a destination on the CDC website. But it may not be necessary on your trip for a variety of reasons. Remember though, sometimes countries require travelers to be vaccinated against certain diseases, be it a disease that’s been around forever, such as Hepatitis A and B, or a more recent disease such as COVID-19. In addition, travel medicine is much more than just travel shots. There is a wealth of travel safety information and resources you need to stay safe that will be customized to your itinerary. Your travel doctor will have all the information: what’s required, what’s not required but definitely a good idea, and things to look out for when at your destination.
Find someone who specializes in travel medicine
Fine, you might be saying, so I need to check in with my doctor before I head out. But here’s the thing – most physicians do not provide travel advice because international disease threats – typhoid, malaria, yellow fever, rabies, Japanese encephalitis and intestinal parasites – are not necessarily familiar to family doctors. For example, if you mention to your own doctor that you will be volunteering in Tanzania or that you will be taking a 2 week trip to India’s Golden Triangle, your physician will likely refer you to a trained travel doctor to ensure that you get the best care possible.
They will have answers to all your Specific Destination questions
And travel physicians will answer questions that you don’t even know to ask such as: If I get sick abroad, then how do I find an English speaking physician? Are blood transfusions really safe in foreign countries? And does it make sense to purchase medical evacuation insurance? Is the food and drink in my hotel safe?
If you have any pre-existing conditions, it is especially important to talk to someone who specializes in travel medicine. Make sure they get all the information they need to make a complete assessment from your family doctor. With COVID-19 likely to stick around, it’s more important than ever that you protect yourself and your health as well as you can.
The advantages of seeing a travel doctor
- You’ll be well prepared and less likely to get sick on your travels.
- You’ll learn how to prevent the most likely illnesses, such as diarrhea, and have medicine on hand should you fall victim anyway.
- You’ll be up to speed on your vaccinations, avoiding some very nasty diseases.
- Discuss medications you may need and should carry with you so you are prepared for the worst case scenario.
- Learn preventative measures, such as using mosquito repellant and not drinking tap water.
- Have all your paperwork – some countries require certain vaccinations.
- Do an overall health check to make sure you start your adventure in great condition.
Overall, seeing a travel doctor will allow you to start your exciting vacation as prepared as possible. And that’s what you need when trying to stay healthy while traveling!