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  Many people are planning to travel throughout the world on their vacations this year to explore new places, see historical sites, volunteer, attend training or school, or just to relax. As you are planning these exciting trips, be sure to take a few health precautions and do some pre-trip planning for maintaining your health during international traveling to ensure you can enjoy your trip to the fullest. Here are a few helpful health tips for international travel and some important health information resources you can explore prior to departure.

1. See Your Physician- It is important to have a physical and see your physician prior to traveling. You can use this medical visit to discuss medication protocols, any traveling precautions needed for your personal health status or any pre-existing conditions, to discuss your needed vaccinations, and to schedule any necessary follow-up visits.  This visit with your physician should take place 6- 8 weeks prior to your departure.

2. Get Your Vaccinations Updated- You need to make sure that your regular immunizations are current, such as tetanus, flu and diphtheria, as well as to schedule any needed vaccinations 4-6 weeks ahead of traveling. Your physician will be able to provide you with an updated immunization record, give any necessary vaccinations, and make a summary of your particular health needs that you can take with you while traveling.

3. Get Country Specific Vaccinations- For country specific vaccination information, you can check on what is needed through two good online resources, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) Travel Precautions By Country at cdc.gov, and  the U.S. Department of State’s Travel Advisories at usds.gov. Here you will find by country the required vaccinations for traveling there that may include typhoid, hepatitis, encephalitis, yellow fever, and many others. These vaccinations are available through community health centers and physicians.

4. Plan Ahead for Medications- It is very important to maintain your medications while traveling, and you cannot assume that you will be able to find similar medications in another country. Have your medications filled prior to departure, and keep them in the original pharmacy containers that are clearly marked with your identifying information. If one or more of your medications are Class 2 substances, then obtain a letter from your physician indicating your need for the medication.

5. Visit Your Dentist- It is also a good idea to have your dentist check your teeth, and dentures if applicable, before you leave on a vacation. A pressurized airplane cabin that gives you a tooth ache, a loose tooth that falls out while eating in a restaurant or a dental abscess without access to a dentist can put a damper on your travel experiences.

6. Pack a First Aid Kit- Travelers can obtain many over the counter medications and health items in travel sizes. A specific First Aid kit that will address some anticipated needs can be very helpful and instrumental in making traveling healthy and enjoyable. Some travel first aid items may include aspirin, antacids, band aids, allergy tablets, blister bandages, laxatives, anti-diarrheal medication, decongestant, bug repellant, antihistamine, sunscreen, tweezers, nail clippers, antibiotic cream, cold medication, sanitizer gel, etc.

7. Be Prepared- There are specific precautions to take when traveling with children and the elderly. Review these precautions with their physicians and pediatricians prior to departure. People with certain diseases and handicaps also need to take necessary precautions to make sure their needs can be met, such as reserving handicap hotel rooms for people in wheelchairs.

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