Travel health tips

When planning a trip, make sure you visit your doctor 3 to 6 months ahead so they can give you specific advice based on where you are going.

Travelling is something many people enjoy doing. However, it does have it's risks and planning beforehand is very important. 

If you are young and fit, you want to stay that way, so read up about what precautions and immunisations you need to avoid the common tummy bugs or tropical illnesses many travellers catch.

If you already have any health issues, be it diabetes, asthma, chronic pain or something else, then extra care is needed around medications, travel insurance and planning for common scenarios.

family travelling

Top 5 tips for travellers

  1. Visit your doctor or travel medicine clinic early (3 to 6 months before leaving) to check what vaccinations you need.
  2. Take an itinerary and check-list to discuss with your doctor or nurse and ask what else they would recommend you take (anti-diarrhoea medication, antibiotics etc).
  3. Keep checking what recommendations are being given for the countries you are visiting in case something changes (SARS, swine flu etc).
  4. Take a travel first-aid kit so you can manage simple cuts, grazes, tummy bugs and minor ailments yourselves.
  5. Be safe in all that you do - sun, water, recreation, transport, drink and eat.


Before visiting your doctor/nurse or travel clinic to discuss your overseas trip, or while you are travelling, the following list may be useful:

  • Travel itinerary – take a copy of your final itinerary  countries, cities, rural areas, time in each place.
  • Seasons and duration – find out if there are any special precautions you need to take, e.g. mosquito avoidance, antimalarials, jellyfish.
  • Accommodation – what sort of accommodation will you be staying in? Air-conditioned, remote, with locals? This affects what immunisations you may need
  • Transport – how will you be travelling? (Using public transport, hire car or back-packing?). Should you wear leg stockings to reduce the risk of clots?
  • Purpose – are you visiting friends and relatives, sightseeing, or part of a tour group?
  • Current health status – create a list of current and past medical conditions. 
  • Medications and treatments - take spare in case of delays or change of plans.
  • My medications list – carry with you a list of all your medications, any medication allergies and vitamins, supplements or herbal remedies you take.
  • First aid kit – review what to include based on where and for how long you are travelling.
  • Medical clearance – do you need a doctor's certificate to fly or travel? Do you need medications?
  • Vaccinations – carry a list of past vaccinations and update with any new ones given. 

The following video highlights some key points to consider before leaving to reduce your risk of getting sick while away. 

 (New England Journal Medicine Video Channel, US, 2016)

Safe Travel NZ

Website with a wide range of resources and advice from the NZ Government agencies for New Zealanders travelling overseas. 

Learn more

Travellers' Health Vaccines, Medicines, Advice, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, USA
Avian influenza (bird flu)  Ministry of Health (2017), NZ Communicable Disease Control Manual (Pg 111)
Avoiding bug bites while travelling Ministry of Health NZ, 2014
Bedbugs Ministry of Health NZ, 2014
Food and water-borne diseases  Ministry of Health NZ, 2014
Travel and blood clots  Ministry of Health NZ, 2015


Travelling Ministry of Health
Safe travel NZ Safe travel NZ
Travel health CDC

Credits: Editorial team.