“Travelers’ Ailments” — How to Stay Healthy on Vacation

Jennifer R. Povey
6 min readJan 30, 2020
Photo by Kovah on Unsplash

Getting on a jet plane? With the outbreak ongoing, many people are canceling trips to China.

But under ordinary circumstances, should we worry about getting sick while traveling? Yes and no. Obviously, you don’t want to worry as that can ruin your vacation. You should, however, take some simple precautions.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Get Your Shots

Some destinations, you’re fine with your routine vaccinations (but do make sure they are up-to-date. Some older Americans may not be properly protected against measles). For others, you will need extra shots, especially if traveling to the tropics.

If traveling during the winter, get your flu shot at least two weeks before the trip.

You should book an appointment with your doctor four to six weeks before traveling. Tell your doctor where you are going and whether your destination country requires vaccinations, such as yellow fever. For some trips you may also need anti-malarials.

Because insurance companies can be difficult, if you are on any kind of long-term medication, it may help to get a second prescription. (I’ve had pharmacists cancel a refill request because insurance wouldn’t pay for it. Without telling me).

Check Your Insurance

How well will your health insurance cover you when overseas? If the answer is “Not well enough,” then you need to get travel insurance as well.

Make sure that you are covered for flareups of chronic conditions and that if you need to be evacuated home that’s also covered.

Protect Your Meds

I have a chronic condition. One of the most terrifying moments of my life was when airport security in Poland attempted to confiscate the medication I have to take every day. I had no way of getting more for three days, which was more than long enough for me to end up in the emergency room. I have no idea why he acted like that, but I’m sure I was acting very suspiciously when I burst into tears from the literal threat to my life.

Jennifer R. Povey

I write about fantasy, science fiction and horror, LGBT issues, travel, and social issues.