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Travel Health - Before You Go

Proper planning is the best way to stay healthy during your trip. This takes time. You'll want to gather both travel and health information, and think about your special needs.

See a doctor at least 6 weeks before you go so you'll have time to get vaccines or make other health preparations.

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To get started

  • Think about the type of shape you're in. Most travel, even if you are going on a guided tour, typically demands more physical effort than is required at home. Boost your fitness by starting an exercise program, such as fitness walking, in advance.
  • Make a first aid kit with items such as pain relievers, sunscreen, insect repellent, moleskin, antifungal and antibacterial ointments, medicine for motion sickness, and antidiarrheal medicines.
  • If you have health insurance, find out how your insurance works outside of the United States. If your insurance company doesn't cover you in other countries, you may want to think about buying travel health insurance. Use the Internet to search for "travel insurance compare" to get websites that help you compare types of travel insurance.

Get the information you need

You can use the Internet to find general travel health information. Just make sure the information is up-to-date and from a reliable source. See the following websites before you travel:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( This site has information on travel health and safety, required immunizations, and disease outbreaks.
  • World Health Organization ( You'll find information on travel, recommended immunizations, and disease outbreaks throughout the world.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Vessel Sanitation Program ( This site contains information from the CDC about cruise ship sanitation inspection scores.
  • U.S. State Department ( Information on where to get the best medical care in the region you are visiting. It lists every U.S. embassy worldwide and lists some doctors and medical facilities in those countries. Take along the phone numbers and addresses of embassies in the areas you will visit.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 27, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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