Sun, Sand and Safety

Planning on travelling down south or overseas this winter? Remember to pack your common sense when you go abroad. Be sure you are aware of the health conditions in the country where you will be travelling, as well as the precautions you should take before you leave, and during your trip.

Be Proactive

Plan ahead to ensure a safe and healthy trip. Take steps to anticipate any issues that could arise while you are away. See a doctor about vaccinations at least six weeks before you travel, especially if you are travelling down south (a hepatitis A and B vaccine, like Twinrix may be recommended), or to a place where malaria is prevalent. Also, make sure you are in good health. People who have had recent surgery, recent injury, or are more than 36 weeks pregnant generally should not travel by air.

Try to learn about your destination; such as local laws and culture, and check travel advisories on your destination for health and safety concerns. While in another country, avoid pulling out large maps – you will stand out as a tourist for sure. Instead, study the map before you set out on an excursion. You want to blend in with the locals as much as possible.

Be Prepared

Getting sick or injured, losing a personal item or having things stolen while away, may not be at the top of your list of priorities before you leave, but preparedness is the best form of action. It is highly recommended to obtain travel insurance for the whole duration of the trip including the day you depart. Some travel company’s offer health and baggage insurance together. This is a good option, especially if you are carrying items of high value, like video cameras.

To ensure you are prepared for your trip, you can start with packing smart. Purchase a money belt or a neck pouch to keep important information in; such as your passport, airline ticket, credit and debit cards, traveller’s cheques, cash, a copy of your insurance policy, and medical prescriptions.

Also, packing a travel medical/health kit is a good idea to allow you to take care of minor health problems if they arise.

Items to include are – antidiarrheal medication, antihistamine, decongestant, anti-motion sickness medications, medicine for fever or pain, mild laxative, cough suppressant, antacid, any needed prescription medications (pack these in carry-on). Bandages, aloe vera gel, antibacterial wipes or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Be sure to make copies of all important travel documents, such as passports, birth certificates, and travel insurance documentation, and store them in your suitcase, in case the originals are lost or stolen. Leave additional copies with a family member or friend back home. Maintain contact with friends and family, especially if you are travelling solo. Keep them posted on where you are and where you are heading next.

Airport security

Since the summer of ‘06, there have been restrictions on what you can and cannot take in your carry-on luggage. In order to minimize potential delays during the screening process, follow these guidelines:

  • Only pack liquids, gels or aersols that are 100mL or less, in your carry-on. Anything over 100mL can be packed in your checked baggage.
  • All these items are to be placed in a clear 1L re-sealable plastic bag.
  • Remove the closed plastic bag containing all permitted liquids, gels, and aerosols and put them in the tray provided at the beginning of the screening process.
  • Water bottles are included in this screening, so make sure to empty the contents out before going through screening, otherwise it will be taken away from you. Many times you can fill it back up once you get through airport security.

Be Protected

Pay attention to your health while away. Use sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection in warm AND cold climates. If you are travelling in an area where malaria is present, it is important that you take anti-malarial medication as prescribed by your doctor. Since anti-malarial medication does not guarantee absolute protection against the disease, preventing mosquito bites is very important. Use mosquito repellents when outside, especially between dusk and dawn.

Be careful about food and water – avoid tap water, ice cubes, unpeeled fruit, and strange foods. Should you experience traveller’s diarrhea, be sure to drink plenty of liquids to prevent becoming dehydrated, especially in warm climates. Also, limit your alcohol intake, and don’t take mindless risks with your health and safety. But most important, is to have fun and stay alert. The best vacation is a safe vacation!