Americans are becoming more and more health conscious in our daily lives.

We monitor the food we eat, take vitamins and supplements, are drinking more water, exercising regularly, and even use forms of de-stressing like meditation. However, there is one aspect of our lives in which we are not keeping our health at the forefront, and that’s traveling. We tend to take our health while we travel for granted. But with the current Ebola outbreak overtaking the news, as overblown as it is, it serves as a good reminder of how we should prepare to avoid illness while traveling.

When we book a trip or vacation, we tend to take our health for granted. Many travelers don’t take into consideration that other countries have different medical conditions than in the United States, along with different foods and the way they are grown.

Common illnesses like allergies or the flu can ruin your much-anticipated vacation or trip abroad if you haven’t prepared accordingly.

That said, there are plenty of ways to make sure that you’re being conscious of your health when you are overseas. Take a look at some of the easiest and most important steps you can take to ensure your trip is a memorable one for all the right reasons.

Before You Leave

Think about where you’re going and ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is there a current restriction or warning on the countries that you’re considering visiting? The CDC issues travel warnings for health concerns on a regular basis. Check their website ahead of time to ensure that the place you’re heading to doesn’t have any preexisting warnings.
  • What is the current economic state of the places you’re going? Are they developed? Somewhat developed or not developed at all? This will determine how worrisome the environment is, such as sewage, medical safety, food safety, potable water, etc. This is also tied to the healthcare system in the country(ies) you’re heading to. More developed countries have better, more reliable, safer hospitals, clinics, and other medical centers.
  • Where are these countries located? Are they located in tropical zones where most serious diseases generate?
  • How similar is the climate to your current situation?
  • What are the most common diseases in these areas?
  • Are there diseases you’ll need to vaccinate yourself from?

These questions will help you identify the possible pathogens in the area you’re looking for and how naturally resistant you are to these illnesses, based upon where you currently live.

See Your Doctor

If travel advisories are in place or you are concerned regardless, it’s time to go see a doctor. Talk to him or her about vaccinations that help prevent diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and yellow fever. Also – make sure you give yourself enough time for the inoculations to take effect.


Final Prep

As your departure date approaches and you are comfortable with the homework you’ve done on your travel destination and have taken every precaution so far, there are a few over the counter items you can find at any drugstore or even the big box outlets:

  • Probiotics. These are very helpful for keeping your gut balanced when you’re ingesting strange foreign meat and drink.
  • Pink Bismuth (tablets or liquid). Also known as PeptoBismol, is a must-have for traveling abroad. From Health Headlines: “Taken before you get to a country, pink bismuth essentially coats your stomach and digestive system, sucking up toxins and preventing them from entering your blood stream. Studies have shown that travelers who take pink bismuth prophylactically are 65% less likely to get traveler’s diarrhea.”
  • Insurance Travel Kit Call your health insurance provider and ask them if you’re covered while traveling abroad, what steps you need to take, where you should go to find care, etc.

Flip over to Page 2 to find out what to do once you get to your overseas destination!