You asked us

Fall 2013

Travelling somewhere sunny this winter to escape the cold? The primary health care team from London Health Sciences Centre's Victoria Family Medical Centre recommends these healthy travel tips:

Before you go:

  • Exercise, eat a healthy diet, and get plenty of rest.
  • Set-up a pre-travel health assessment. Visit with your family doctor or a travel health clinic to assess your health needs and help you prevent illness and injuries.  These visits – as well as specific travel immunizations – may not be covered by your health plan, so invest in your health and include these costs in your travel budget! 
  • Obtain full travel health insurance and carry proof of coverage while travelling.
    Prepare a travel health kit that includes: an information card with your medication list, allergies, name, address, and a phone number for your family doctor and a family/friend in Canada; accommodation and destination; hospital/clinics at your destination and Canadian Embassy; sunscreen; insect repellant; hand sanitizer; and a list of safe food and water habits while travelling. 
  • If travelling with prescription medications and supplies you should carry a note of explanation from your family doctor, a copy of the prescription, and there should be a clear pharmacy label on the original container to avoid issues at customs.  Essential medication should be carried in two different pieces of hand luggage in case one gets lost or stolen.  Ensure you pack more than enough for your trip duration. 
  • If you have medical needs that require attention abroad contact your visiting resort or hotel to discuss arrangements in advance and bring any supplies you may need.
  • Be prepared to manage jet lag, altitude, and a new culture.  Adjust your sleep schedule several days in advance. Plan to gradually increase activities that require exercise, allowing your body to adjust to a new altitude. Review local habits and customs, making note of greetings, expectations, local schedules and food choices.

While you travel:

  • Wash your hands with soap under running water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer – this is one of the most important practices in preventing illness while travelling.
  • Drink plenty of safe fluids. Only drink, brush your teeth and use ice from purified water that has been boiled, disinfected or commercially bottled in sealed containers. Carbonated drinks are usually safe. Avoid unpasteurized dairy products.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine to prevent dehydration and headaches. Alcohol at your destination may be much stronger than you are used to - only drink in moderation and do not drink home-brewed alcohol. Some localities may not tolerate excessive drinking. Never drink in countries where it is prohibited.
  • Protect yourself:  If travelling in the sun, wear sunglasses and a hat, and use sunblock (SPF 15 or higher) regularly; avoid insect bites; wear appropriate protective clothing and insect repellent during activities.

When you return:

  • If you’ve been sick while travelling or become sick after your return to Canada, inform your health-care provider immediately.
    Share your experiences with friends and family through photos and stories (including any travel tips you picked up along the way!)


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