Packing for a Healthy Vacation
Want to stay healthy while traveling in the U.S. and abroad? Prepare before you leave and take some essentials along for healthy travel.
By Daniel DeNoon
Reviewed By Charlotte Grayson
No matter where you're traveling, one thing should go with you, stay with you, and come home with you: your health.
While travel, whether domestic or foreign, broadens one's mental horizons and refreshes a zest for life, it is also fraught with chances for illness and injury. So the best advice is the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared. Follow these four steps.
Step 1: Plan Ahead for Health
Most of us have busy lives. We all have a lot to do before we can leave for vacation. But many of us don't do these things until the last minute. The resulting frenzy of activity leaves us exhausted - just when we'll be needing our physical and emotional strength for travel.
If this sounds like you, try something new this vacation. Using a calendar for the month before you leave, plan just one task for every day. Sure, there will be some last-minute details, but you'll have so much more done.
Step 2: Check Your Prescriptions
If you need any kind of prescription medicine, either on a daily or as-needed basis, make sure you've got enough to last the length of your trip. Make a list of all of these medicines and take it with you in case your luggage gets lost. Keep this list separate from the medicines themselves, in case your luggage is lost or stolen.
If you're traveling to another country, you'll want to take extra precautions:
Step 3: Check Your Travel Insurance Coverage
Be sure to take your insurance policy identify card and a claim form with you. If you're traveling to another country, check with your insurer to see whether you will be covered if you fall ill or get injured while abroad.
If your insurance does not offer coverage, you may want to purchase supplemental insurance that does. Even if your insurer covers "customary and reasonable" hospital costs overseas, few companies pay for medical evacuation back to the U.S. The U.S. State Department estimates the cost at "$10,000 and up."
Note that Medicare does not cover hospital or medical costs outside the U.S. The American Association of Retired Persons has information for senior citizens about foreign medical care coverage with Medicare supplement plans.
Step 4: Check Your Packing List
The following is based on packing lists from the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Emory University TravelWell Clinic. You may not need every item on this list. Note that the first thing to avoid when traveling is back strain. Pack light! If you're traveling to a major city, you'll be able to buy just about any supply you can buy at home. If you have any doubt, take it along.
Published April 2005.
SOURCES: American College of Emergency Physicians. Enhancing Your Journey, TravelWell, Emory University. International Travel and Health, The World Health Organization. The American Red Cross.
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