Your go-to guide for a safe, healthy and enjoyable international getaway!

September 20, 2013

Who doesn't love to travel? Especially when it is for that needed vacation, when travelling internationally we all want to be healthy, safe and for it to be enjoyable! Staying healthy and avoiding sickness in your travels can sometimes be a tough challenge and MEDOCare wants to provide some helpful tips to make sure you can get the most out of your vacation. Some questions you might ask may include "What should I do before I depart on an international trip?" "What should I pack so my trip is enjoyable?" and "How can I avoid getting sick while I am travelling?" This article will answer these questions and hopes to aid you so that you can enjoy your trip but also remain healthy and safe!

What should I do before I depart on an international trip?

It is important to be up-to-date with immunizations before you depart on your international travels to protect yourself from vaccine-preventable illnesses. Consult your doctor or MEDOCare pharmacist on what vaccines are required and recommended for certain destinations. Be sure to give yourself enough time to get immunized, as some vaccines (such as hepatitis) are required a few weeks before departure.

Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, Hepatitis A and B, diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus and your yearly flu shot. Additional vaccines may be needed depending on your intended destination. For example, if you intend to travel to Mexico, it is recommended you also get vaccinated against typhoid fever in addition to your routine vaccinations.

However, some illnesses cannot be prevented by immunization such as malaria. The best way to protect against malaria (An infection spread through mosquito bites that is prevalent in tropical destinations around the equator, such as sub-Saharan Africa or Asia) is to protect yourself from mosquito bites and take preventive anti-malaria medication.

It's a good idea to talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for an antibiotic just in case you are hit with a bad case of diarrhea abroad. In fact, Dukoral is a vaccine that protects against travelers' diarrhea and is available without a prescription at your MEDOCare pharmacy.

Sometimes emergency medical care is needed when travelling and this could lead to expensive hospital bills that are not covered by your province. Because of this, if you do not already have it through work, prepare for the unexpected by obtaining medical travel insurance prior to your travels.

What things should I pack before my trip?

It is a good idea to include a first-aid kit containing certain medications and supplies that may not be readily available at your destination. These items may include:

  • Pain reliever
  • Antacid for heart burn and indigestion
  • Anti-diarrheal for upset stomach
  • Anti-nausea medication for motion sickness
  • Insect repellent
  • Laxative for constipation
  • Oral rehydration salts in case of dehydration
  • Hydrocortisone cream/ointment and adhesive bandages for skin cuts and infections

It is important to know some of these items may not be right for you, be sure to discuss them with your doctor or MEDOCare pharmacist if you are unsure. For more information on how you can stay safe during your travels you can visit the Public Health Agency of Canada's website at

What should I do while I am travelling to stay healthy?

Travellers' diarrhea is caused by contaminated food or water and because it very common among people who travel, you can lower your chances of getting it by following these tips:

  • Always remember to boil, cook, peel your food and water
  • Wash your hands frequently and carry hand sanitizer
  • Avoid uncooked foods (e.g. shellfish) and foods that have been washed with potentially unsafe water (e.g. salads, fruits and vegetables without a peel)
  • Drink clean water only (bottled or boiled)
  • Avoid ice cubes and "street food"
  • Use bottled water when brushing teeth

Stay healthy and safe and most importantly have fun!

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