One of the great things about college today is the opportunity to travel.
No matter what school you go to, it will most likely have some sort of abroad program. Or, if yours doesn’t, look into going with another school and transferring the credits. And seriously, what other time in your life will it be acceptable to take months off and travel the world?
Take it from someone who has recently joined the 9-5er workforce and regrets that she did not take advantage of the traveling opportunities available in college. So, for those brave and adventurous souls preparing to travel, there is one aspect that you may not have thought too much about in the midst of getting your passport, figuing out living arrangements, etc. That small, but important, detail being how to stay healthy while abroad. For example, the last thing you want to do is contract a UTI while traveling in a country with a lack of public restrooms, and have no medication on hand…
Don’t let health risks surprise you
“A visit to a travel-medicine clinic will give you a heads up about what to expect when you reach your destination; the doctor there can provide country-specific information and immunizations.”
Get vaccine savvy
“Besides standard stateside immunizations, such as tetanus and hepatitis A and B shots, you may need other vaccines to protect you from diseases found at your destination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Traveler’s Health Web site has information about suggested immunizations and up-to-date health advisories for every region of the world. Also, allow at least six to eight weeks for vaccinations, if necessary.”
Pack for any possibility
“Women risk developing urinary tract infections, especially when traveling in areas with few bathrooms…pack Cystex ($7 to $10 for 40 tablets; at drugstores) for relief of UTI symptoms until a doctor can prescribe antibiotics. Also, experts stress that you need to take along these three travel necessities — an antidiarrheal (such as Imodium), a basic pain reliever (Motrin, Tylenol, or Advil), and sunscreen. Other recommendations:
• Lotion with aloe for sunburn. Use a formula with lidocaine (such as Banana Boat Sooth-A-Caine Spray Gel; about $6 at drugstores) that will help stop pain, Chavis says.
• Insect repellent. Have it on hand to keep disease-transmitting mosquitoes (think: malaria and dengue fever) at bay.
• Prescription medications. Bring enough to last for the duration of your trip.
• Allergy meds. Take along antihistamines or an EpiPen for emergencies.”
While You’re There
“Airplanes are notorious for transmitting germs through recirculated air, but that’s not the only issue with the air up there: Dry air in planes can sneakily cause dehydration for even a vigilant traveler. Also, avoid diuretics or substances that strip water from the body.”
Watch what you eat — and drink
“Sip a lot of water to stay hydrated, but be mindful of the water quality overseas: Waterborne E. coli and Salmonella are quick tickets to nasty cases of traveler’s diarrhea. Also, drink bottled water overseas — but only if the bottle’s seal is intact…Avoiding local water means carefully watching what foods you eat, too; raw fruits or vegetables may have been washed in unfiltered water.”
Listen to your body
“Finally, take time to rest. It’s a vacation, after all, so go easy. Same goes for eating: Easing into new menus will help you adjust. Your best bet is to introduce new things slowly and avoid overconsumption.”