Besides the plane tickets, and the money, and the passport, the most important thing you bring on a trip is you.
You can insure your belongings all you want. If you get sick, however, the road to getting better can be a long and costly one that could have potentially been avoided if you just put the following items on your travel checklist.
Scan the CDC website. We’re not all spending time in the most Western of countries when we travel, and even so, there’s the risk of the next big outbreak (think Swine Flu) happening in any part of the world. For these reasons, it is wise to scan the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in advance of any trip. It gives updates on any recent issues around the world, as well as country-specific health information and vaccination recommendations.
Consult a travel clinic. I remember being a child and thinking that doctors, every doctor, knew everything. The truth is that a doctor may know a bit about diseases, like malaria, but unless they focus on it, they probably don’t have all the recent information or even know which countries need which type of anti-malarial. That’s why it is important to consult a travel clinic, or a doctor that specializes in preparing individuals for overseas travel, in advance. I simply contacted my local county health department and discovered that they housed a travel clinic within. Therefore, getting the pre-travel health care I needed was as easy as making an appointment.
Get the travel immunizations. Many travelers refuse to get the jabs because of the extra cost, but when it comes to some diseases, it is definitely better to shell out the dough and protect yourself. After doing the research on the CDC site or consulting a travel doctor, make an appointment to get the shots necessary for your travel destination.
Enroll in travel health insurance. It’s not just about treating a potential illness in a foreign land; it’s about any sort of mishap that could land you in a hospital or – worse – leave you paying loads of money (perhaps which you don’t have) to be transported to a location that can actually treat you. Like the immunizations, some people tend to skip out on paying for travel health insurance, but if your home coverage doesn’t also cover you abroad, you should definitely consider this option for your next trip.
Obviously, you can’t plan for every possible health concern, and you definitely shouldn’t avoid travel altogether. The goal here is to be aware and – most of all – be prepared.