Are you planning a trip abroad this summer? Address travel health issues through planning and preparation

Jason Hope
University of Kentucky

Has the COVID-19 pandemic put your international travel plans on hold? Have you ever put off your dream vacation or visiting relatives abroad, wasting your days until you can travel again? Restrictions on visitors and tourists are being eased in many parts of the world, and people are planning trips to make up for lost time.

International travel has changed significantly in the past two years and some major challenges remain; it is important to research your destination and plan accordingly. While it’s impossible to prepare for every situation, here are a few tips to keep in mind when planning your summer travels.

(NKyTribune file)

Check the restrictions and regulations of your destination.
Each country has its own COVID-19 entry requirements and its own masking, testing, and quarantine protocols. Visit the State Department’s travel website for up-to-date destination information.

Additional vaccinations may be recommended for travel, such as hepatitis and yellow fever. Visit the CDC website or ask your doctor about what you need to be safe and healthy at your destination.

Be aware of the requirements for re-testing for COVID.
To return to the United States at the end of your trip, you will need to show a negative COVID test or proof of recovery. If you test positive at the end of your trip, you will have to stay in the host country for at least a few more days, so be sure to prepare for how you will proceed in this situation.

Let others know about your travel plans.
If you have a chronic or pre-existing mental or physical illness, it would be a good idea to discuss your treatment plan abroad with your doctor well in advance of your departure. Also, consider designating someone as a point of contact in case of a medical emergency. Keep their contact information to yourself and contact them regularly.

Get insurance.
Keep in mind that your insurance here in the United States may not cover all of your medical expenses, so consider purchasing a travel health insurance policy. Some policies may even cover the costs you incur if you find yourself in quarantine. You may also want to consider other types of insurance, such as trip cancellation insurance in case you are unable to travel at the last minute.

Pill packaging? Know before you go.
Keep your medicines in your carry-on in case your luggage gets lost. If possible, take enough medication with you for the entire trip, and bring extras with you in case your trip is delayed. Talk to your doctor about the possibility of refilling your medications abroad.

Be aware that some medicines are banned abroad. Each country has its own rules on what can and cannot be imported; just because a drug is legal in the United States does not mean it will be legal abroad. If you are unsure about the legality of your medicine, the embassy in the destination country can provide advice.

Until you can’t…

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