Traveling This Spring? Here are Tips for Safe and Healthy Travel Traveling This Spring? Here are Tips for Safe and Healthy Travel
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Each year millions of Americans travel abroad for vacation, business, or to visit friends and family. Unfortunately, about half of these international travelers get sick or injured during their trip.
The good news is that most travel-related sickness and injury can be prevented. You are likely to be a traveler who has an enjoyable trip free from illness or injury when you follow these tips:
Be informed: Learn about travel health risks and what to do to avoid them before your trip.
Be ready: Get any vaccinations (shots) or medicines that you will need before your trip.
Be smart while you travel: Make sure you follow travel safety tips while you are on your trip.
1. Be Informed
Top Travel Tips
Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel (with at least 60% alcohol) to clean your hands.
Drink only boiled or bottled water or carbonated drinks from sources you trust. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes.
Eat only fully cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it!
Avoid poultry farms, bird markets, and other places where live poultry is raised or kept.
If visiting an area where there is risk for malaria, take malaria prevention medication before, during, and after your trip, as directed.
If you might be bitten by insects (like mosquitoes or ticks) use insect repellent (bug spray) with 30- 50% DEET.
Know what to do to prevent injuries during your trip.
Find out what you need to know about staying healthy and safe in the area where you are traveling by visiting the Travelers’ Health website. Using the site is simple. Choose the destination (by country or region) you are traveling to and you will get information about:
disease and safety risks and how to avoid them
special notices about outbreaks or other disease activity
what shots or preventive medications (prophylaxis) you should or will be required to get
Important: some countries require you to present a certificate that says you have had a yellow fever vaccination before you can enter. Only authorized healthcare providers can give the yellow fever vaccine. The vaccine should be given at least 10 days before travel and a stamped vaccine certificate will be issued to you by the immunization center.
Find out if you need a yellow fever vaccination
Locate a certified yellow fever vaccination clinic
If you are pregnant or traveling with children, traveling with pets, or if you are a traveler with special needs, do not forget to read the specific advice CDC has for you.
To learn how to handle altitude sickness, extreme heat and cold, and other special situations, see “Non-Infectious Risks During Travel”, chapter 6 of Health Information for International Travel, a CDC publication also known as the Yellow Book.
To be on the safe side, before you go, visit the Illness and Injury Abroad page for information about what to do if you get sick or injured during your trip. On these pages you will also learn about planning for healthy travel and what to include in a travel health kit.
If you are going on a cruise, see our cruise ship travel recommendations, and cruise ship inspection scores from the Vessel Sanitation Program.
For health-care providers, textbook-style information is also available in the Yellow Book. The 2005-2006 edition includes new and updated maps, useful tables for special needs travelers, and new sections on jet lag, legionellosis, and norovirus infection to name a few.
2. Be Ready
If you will need any vaccinations (shots) or medicines, go to your healthcare provider or a travel medicine clinic at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip. This will give your shots time to work so that you will be protected during your trip. If it is less than four weeks before you leave, you should still see your doctor. It might not be too late to get your shots, medications, and other useful information.
Prepare a traveler’s health kit so you have all the medications and supplies you may need before you go.
3. Be Smart While You Travel
Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available and your hands are not visibly dirty, use alcohol-based hand gel (with at least 60% alcohol) to clean your hands. If you are going on a cruise, read this fact sheet about handwashing (in Adobe PDF format), and reducing other health risks while on a cruise.
Drink only bottled or boiled water or carbonated (bubbly) drinks from sources you trust. Do not drink tap water or fountain drinks, or eat ice cubes.
Only eat food that has been fully cooked or fruits and vegetables that have been washed and peeled by you. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
If visiting an area where you might get malaria, make sure to take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after your trip, as directed.
If you might be bitten by insects (like mosquitoes or ticks) use insect repellent (bug spray) with 30-50% DEET. The label on the container will tell you the DEET content.
Make sure you know how to protect yourself from injury while you travel. Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of injury deaths in travelers. Swimming-related accidents are also a major cause of injury among travelers.
Follow the tips and recommendations your health-care provider and the CDC Travelers’ Health site offer, and you are more likely to remain healthy and safe, so you can enjoy your time away from home.