Business considerations and attending your travel clinic appointment
If you’re preparing for a trip abroad, there are a lot of health-related considerations you need to keep in mind in the weeks leading up to your departure. A consultation with a travel healthcare provider at a specialist clinic will ensure that you have accurate information and take precautions based on your personal travel itinerary.
Some travelers may have concerns about whether it is better to visit a travel clinic or just make an appointment with their primary care physicians. Everyone is different, but while it’s understandable that you might feel more comfortable with a primary care physician you already know well, the specialization factor of travel clinics makes them more convenient for most travelers. At travel clinics, common travel vaccines and medications are always available, and physicians keep up-to-date with the latest travel information on a country-by-country basis, which is a big task that a primary care physician may not devote much time to. Travel clinics also tend to offer more accommodation hours for busy pre-flight schedules.
Travel clinics always have important vaccinations for travelers on hand, and they can also provide you with a certificate certifying that you have been immunized against yellow fever, which is a requirement for entry to some African and South American countries. The CDC lists required and recommended vaccines for specific countries on its website, so if your destinations require vaccines, be sure to schedule your appointment 4-6 weeks before your trip, so that the vaccinations have time to take full effect in your body.
But vaccinations aside, there are still plenty of things to consider and discuss at your appointment with your travel healthcare provider. Sharing your entire itinerary with your provider during the consultation is the best way to ensure you don’t miss out on any important information. Be sure to discuss any pre-existing conditions with your provider so they can guide you on the best way to care for yourself while abroad. Depending on your destination, you should stock up on prescription and over-the-counter medications, as they may not be available abroad.
Your health travel provider can help you plan for geography-specific issues such as altitude sickness for places that are 6,000 feet or more above sea level. They can also help determine if the water at your destination is safe to drink without treatment, if you are at increased risk of foodborne illness, or if you will need to use antimalarial medication.
It is also important to share your specific activity plans with your doctor. For example, if you expect to be in contact with livestock or other animals while you are outside, be sure to inform your provider, as this could expose you to foot and mouth disease, or require a rabies vaccine. A health travel provider can give you valuable advice on what to do in an emergency, including information on using medical insurance abroad and how to obtain emergency medical treatment in foreign countries and rural areas.
Remember in your consultation that your travel doctor is there to help you, and there is no such thing as a stupid question. Your provider can give you tips on how to reduce jet lag!
While planning, consider emergency preparedness for non-medical emergencies as well: Natural disasters, political instability, terrorism, hacking, burglary, passport, visa, and driver’s license are important factors that can affect your health, safety, and enjoyment while traveling, and must be taken into consideration.