Looking after your health and wellbeing when you travel overseas is kind of a no-brainer. You can't travel if you get sick or injured and you certainly don't want your long-awaited trip compromised or even cancelled because of an avoidable illness or accident.
Things to think about when it comes to health issues and travel include:
- general health and fitness – have a full health and dental check before you travel. If you're planning an active holiday, make sure you have the fitness levels required for your planned activities e.g. skiing, mountain climbing, rafting or trekking
- sexual health – safe sex practices and your sexual health are important things to consider whether you are at home or travelling overseas
- vaccinations – talk to your doctor about where you plan to travel and what vaccinations you will need
- medications – talk to your doctor about what medicines you may need to take with you when you travel or, if you have a health condition, about managing your current medications while overseas
- first aid – consider getting some basic first aid knowledge if you don't have any already, and don't forget to pack a simple traveller's first aid or medical kit for handling minor accidents or injuries.
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. Medicare does not cover you outside Australia. Some hospitals overseas will not even admit injured people who do not have insurance coverage, no matter how serious their condition may be. Be clear about what your insurance policy covers.
Find out the contact details for places you may need to get in touch with in an emergency – for example, the nearest Australian embassy, your travel insurer's emergency contact number, local fire, ambulance or police services. And make sure someone back home knows your travel itinerary and is in regular contact with you.
Food and drink
Be sensible about what you eat and drink when you travel. As a general rule drink bottled water, avoid ice and beware of uncooked foods. Consult a reputable guidebook for tips about consuming specific foods and drinks in the country you are travelling.
Links for the healthy traveller
These sites have more tips, advice and information about health issues for overseas travellers.
Better Health Channel - Travel Health Tips
The Victorian Government's Better Health website has a selection of articles, tips and information about health and travel. Includes breastfeeding and travel, dealing with holiday stress, fear of flying, travelling with children and travelling for women.
The Travel Doctor
Provides vaccination advice, travel health advice, clinic details and current health alerts for overseas travellers.
Smartraveller - Health - Tips For Staying Healthy
This Federal Government publication is a handy guide for all travellers no matter what your destination or mode of travel. Includes tips on travel insurance, international healthcare agreements, vaccinations and health checks, travelling with medicine and fitness before and during travel.
healthdirect - Travel Health Advice
This Federal Government site has links to a variety of articles and sites with health-related information including immunisation, deep vein thrombosis, infectious diseases and travel with children.