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Healthy Travel Tips

"What did you do this summer?"  Inevitably someone will ask, so make certain that your answer doesn't include emergency trips to the doctor or personal health disasters.

Here are some healthy travel tips to make your summer vacation memorable for all the right reasons.

Step One: Be a Master Packer
Mind the security
Look closely at any of the prescriptive or non-prescriptive medications you need on a daily or regular basis. If these medications are in liquid or gel form and are in containers larger than 2.4 ounces, you will need to either pack them in your checked luggage or mail them ahead of time to your final destination. I've seen many medications in the refuse bin at airport security. For pills and tablets, it's best to keep these on your person rather than in checked luggage to make sure that they get there with you.

Be a clock-watcher
If your medications are timed throughout the day and you are traveling to a location outside your time zone, make sure you keep a watch set at your home-time so that your regimen remains the same.

Make copies
Take along photocopies of your insurance ID card as well as the names and phone numbers of your pharmacist and health care providers and a complete list of all the medications you are taking. If you are traveling to a country where English is not frequently spoken, consider having a list of any chronic medical conditions you may have translated into the native language.

Remember the basics
Take sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses (people always seem to forget these things).

Step Two: Don't Spoil That Long-Awaited "Trip of a Lifetime"
Know before you go
Talk to your insurance company to see what they will and will not cover in the event that you are sick or injured while away.

Are you covered?
Consider traveler's insurance if you are going abroad.

Take a shot
When traveling to an underdeveloped country, make sure that everyone in your traveling party is adequately immunized against any infectious disease you might encounter. The Centers for Disease Control maintains updated advisories and immunization requirements for travelers to all parts of the world at their website:  www.cdc.gov

Water works
When traveling to less economically developed countries, don't drink the water if you want to avoid the risk of diarrhea. Remember the ice may also be contaminated if there is concern about the water quality. Bottled water may be safe, as long as it is factory-bottled. Traveler's diarrhea can also result from drinking beverages that contain ice. Bottled carbonated sodas, beer, and wine (without ice) are safe.

Mind your diet
Those roadside stands and market kiosks are very tempting, but be cautious.  Cooked foods are usually safe, but raw foods and salads (lettuce, raw vegetables, fruit with peel, unpasteurized milk, milk products, undercooked seafood or meat) may lead to gastrointestinal problems. Eat in restaurants that have a reputation for safe cooking.

Prepare in advance
If you are visiting an area where diarrheal illnesses are common (Mexico, for example), speak with your health care provider about getting a prescription for antibiotics. Fill the prescription and take it with you as a precaution.

Step Three: Use Prevention for Protection
Get the 411

Upon arrival, check the local emergency number. Not all communities use 911.

Teach your children well
When traveling with children, make sure that they know the name and telephone number of your hotel in case they get separated from you. Give them enough money to make a phone call, and make sure they know how to use the phones if you are in a foreign country.

If you have more healthy travel tips or have vacation experiences that have taught you a lesson, go to our message boards and share them with the rest of us.

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