Travel Health - Precautions Along the Way
Sun and heat exposure
Many travelers underestimate the sun's strength and overestimate the amount of protection their sunscreen offers. This can add up to at least an uncomfortable sunburn and other skin damage.
Steps you can take to protect yourself from the sun include using sunscreen and wearing a hat and sunglasses.
Heat can also cause problems such as heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Sometimes it's hard to keep cool while you are active in a hot environment. But you can take steps to prevent heat-related illness.
- Before you travel to a hot environment, you can improve your ability to handle heat. Start by exercising for a short time in the heat. Then for the next 2 to 3 weeks, slowly increase the time you exercise in the heat.
- If you are not used to the heat, limit the amount of time you are out in the hottest part of the day.
- Drink plenty of water. Losing 2% to 3% of your weight through sweat increases your risk of a heat-related illness.
- Do not drink alcohol. It increases your risk for dehydration.
- Some medicines can make a heat-related illness more likely. If you take medicines regularly, ask your doctor for advice about hot-weather activity and your risk for heat-related illness.
Although disease is a big risk while you are traveling, you should also be aware of the risk of injury.
- Motor vehicle accidents. They are a leading cause of injury among travelers. Bad roads, poor driver training, and crowded roadways can make driving dangerous in other countries.
- Learn local driving customs and road signs.
- Try to travel during daylight.
- Always use seat belts.
- Ask taxi drivers or other hired drivers to slow down or drive more carefully if you feel unsafe.
- Wear helmets and protective clothing when riding motorcycles or bicycles.
- Animal bites. Take care around dogs and other animals. Dogs in developing countries may bite, and rabies is a concern. If you are bitten by an animal, wash the bite with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.
- Wounds. Most wounds sustained in developing countries carry a higher risk of becoming infected. If you get even a minor wound, clean it as soon as possible with large amounts of warm water and soap. Apply antibiotic ointment and a bandage.
If you haven't had a tetanus shot in 10 years, you should get a booster dose before you leave on your trip. But if you don't get a tetanus shot before you leave, you should get one after an animal bite or an injury that results in a break in the skin.