This article originally appeared on Health Listed.
Traveling abroad carries a number of inherent risks that can turn the perfect vacation into a nightmare, both for your physical and financial health. While you’re planning your dream getaway, you will want to take a few extra planning steps to make sure that if anything happens to your health while you’re away, you’ll be able to get care. And of course, there are a few preventative measures you can take to help keep the whole family healthy and happy while splish-splashing around or taking nature tours.
1: Get a Physical and Vaccine Update
Do this before you leave. You’ll want to make sure you’re in good health, and that there is nothing likely to flare up with the added stress of travel that you haven’t yet noticed. If something does get flagged in the physical, you will be better prepared to manage your health and still enjoy the trip.
Hepatitis vaccines are always good to update if you plan to travel. Depending on the location of your trip, the doctor may suggest additional precautions.
2: Check for Travel and Health Advisories
Make sure you look up your destination in the CDC’s travel advisory database and ask your doctor about preventative measures that you can take against any risks that the site notes. Also, check out the U.S. government website for international travel for warnings and temporary alerts. These will include medical concerns as well as political turmoil and risk of terrorism.
Some medical alerts, such as the Zika virus, are simple enough to work around with the right planning. For Zika, it would be a matter of taking precautions against mosquitoes. Other potential dangers might be more difficult to protect yourself against, so always consider your vacation very carefully if you see these sorts of warnings.
3: Triple-Check Your Insurance
Unfortunately, it’s very likely that your health insurance policy won’t cover you while you’re abroad. You will likely need to research your options for medical travel insurance as a temporary, supplementary option for your existing plan. It’s a shame to cut into your vacation budget, but if anything happens, you’ll be able to get care without unpredictable, out-of-pocket expenses. If you are visiting somewhere remote or aren’t confident about the health care you’ll receive there, double check that the temporary plan includes emergency evacuation coverage. The last thing you want to be on the hook for paying is a medical plane ride.
4: Bugs and Sun!
Sunscreen and bug spray—don’t leave your hotel without them! Some of the largest risk factors come from everyday vacation activities. It can seem pretty innocuous to forget about reapplying sunscreen every four hours or not bother with the bug spray, but in terms of long-term health risks, these are the most likely to catch you out.
Mosquitoes, ticks, and other bugs carry a number of diseases. The worst bite will be the one you never notice. Do your research about locational risk factors for the nastiest bugs in the region.
Letting your skin burn is one of the very best ways to increase your risk of skin cancer—particularly, melanoma, which is pretty much the worst form. Anyone of any complexion, regardless of family cancer history, can develop skin cancer. If you do end up burning on vacation—it happens to all of us once in awhile—do your very best not to further irritate your skin. Be kind to your body and let it heal. Avoid swimming in chlorinated water, which can damage your skin further and exacerbate the symptoms of sunburn.
5: Check in With Locals
Locals and expats will be able to tell you a lot about potential dangers, pitfalls, and of course the very best places to go, whether you’re into the tourist attractions or want to escape for a while. They will also be able to provide you with health and safety tips that work the best for that specific region. When combined with the advice of your doctor, you’ll be armed with enough information to rock your vacation without suffering so much as a cold.
It’s easier than ever to find out what locals know and think about popular destinations. From online reviews to adventure and travel bloggers, there is a wealth of knowledge online for you to take advantage of.
There you have it! Stay healthy, and have fun!