Travel health

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 immunizations you need to avoid the common tummy bugs or tropical illnesses many travelers 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.

Top 5 tips for travelers

  1. Visit your doctor or travel medicine clinic ealy (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!

Check list

Before visiting your doctor/nurse or travel clinic to discuss your overseas trip, or whilst your 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?
  • Transport – how will you be travelling? (Using public transport, hire car or back-packing?). Should you wear leg stockings to reduce 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.

Learn more

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

Credits: Editorial team.