International travel can be a rich and rewarding experience. If you plan to travel, there are the obvious jobs you will need to do such as get your passport and country visas in order, book cruises, flights and accommodation. You should also make a point of looking up the government’s website www.smartraveller.gov.au to check the safety status of the country you intend visiting. This official site classifies countries according to travel safety and, of course, in many parts of the world this is volatile and subject to constant change.
The highest warning the government issues is its “Do Not Travel” warning which advises against travel to certain destinations like Afghanistan. Be aware that if you do travel to countries against advice, your travel insurance is instantly void. Some countries, such as Indonesia and Pakistan, are on the ‘Reconsider Your Need to Travel’ list. While your travel insurance will usually cover you in this case, violence, political unrest and terrorist activities can escalate quickly, and may force the Australian government to upgrade its warning to ’Do Not Travel’. The astute traveler should be mindful of this and how it affects travel plans.
Don’t let travel concerns stop you from enjoying a wonderful holiday. Here are some further healthy tips to help you plan ahead:
- Health Insurance - Ensure you have an adequate travel insurance policy in place, including accident and illness cover, even for pre-existing conditions. Travel with copies of the policy details and contacts, should the worst occur and you need to advise the insurer.
- Medication – If you require medication, leave enough time to contact your airline to determine how to comply with enhanced airport and air travel security regulations. Pack an ample supply of medication in the original container to avoid customs problems.Do not use pill cases. Because of strict laws concerning narcotics throughout the world, take along copies of your prescriptions and, if possible, carry a letter from your doctor explaining your need for the drug. As an extra precaution, carry the generic names of your medications with you, because pharmaceutical companies overseas may use different names from those used in Australia.
- Reading glasses – pack extra glasses and medicines in your hand luggage so they will be available in case your checked luggage is lost. To be extra sure, consider packing a backup supply of medicines and an additional pair of eyeglasses in your checked luggage.
- Special medical needs – if you suffer allergies, reactions to certain medication, foods, insect bites or other unique medical problems, consider wearing a medical alert bracelet. You may also wish to carry a letter from your doctor explaining desired treatment should you become ill.
- Breathing problems – Air pollution and high altitudes are a particular health risk for vulnerable people, such as those with high blood pressure, anemia or respiratory or cardiac problems. Talk to your doctor before traveling. In high altitude areas it is also wise to spend the first few days quietly adjusting to the change. Reactions to high altitudes may include lack of energy, shortness of breath, occasional dizziness and insomnia.
- Drink bottled water – in many countries local tap water is either contaminated or different enough from what we are used to that it may cause stomach upsets. If possible, drink only bottled water that is sealed. Clean your teeth with this bottled water as well. Be aware that ice cubes can also be a trap. They may not have been made with purified water and they actually freeze germs rather than killing them. It’s best to enjoy your favourite cocktail without icecubes.
- Look before you eat – you might have a cast iron stomach back home but foods we’re not used to can bring the best of us undone. Simple precautions go a long way when you travel. Be mindful that salad greens may have been washed in unsafe tap water. Fruit you cannot peel can also be dodgy. As a general rule, if you can’t peel it or cook it, do not eat it.