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How to stay healthy while traveling

Daniel Chodusov

Be prepared: that’s the best way to stay well while you travel this summer. Whether that means bringing your prescription medications, looking online or checking with a doctor before you go, there are important steps to take in order to be safe and healthy when you take a vacation.

This week on “Take Care,” an interview with travel writer Nancy Parode on tips for how to stay healthy while traveling. She writes about senior travel for About.com and has written about domestic and international travel -- everything from cruises to road-trips with her grandkids.

Click 'Read More' to hear our interview with Nancy Parode.

One of the first things Parode suggests is picking a healthy destination. Be cautious of areas with a disease outbreak and she says it might be wise to avoid places with a malaria outbreak if you have a weak immune system. Parode also warns to check your health insurance policy. Medicare, for instance, doesn’t cover incidents outside of the United States. Going to your doctor before taking a trip is also an important step she advises.

“They can go over any immunizations they might need or get a little once-over and some travel health advice from a medical professional,” she said, adding that it’s also important to check websites like the Centers for Disease Control, and for international travelers, the website of the embassy for your destination country for the most up-to-date health and security issues.

Parode explains that it is important to start preparing far ahead of your trip, sometimes weeks ahead if you traveling to a country that requires vaccines for things like malaria or yellow fever. In some cases, medication may have to be started weeks before your trip, be taken through your trip and extend a couple weeks after. She insists that the fuss is much better than contracting either disease.

Travelers should keep prescription in their original bottles when traveling, especially abroad, to prove you have an official prescription and also to remind yourself of the proper temperature and way to take your medication.

If you’re in need of medical care while on vacation, Parode advises finding an urgent care center if you are traveling domestically or a pharmacy if you are traveling abroad. If you describe your symptoms to the pharmacist, he or she can help you get the medication you need.

Parode suggests that travelers bring a medical kit with them depending on their destination, including:

  • Incest repellent to avoid being bitten by mosquitos, which can carry all kinds of diseases
  • Anti-diarrheal medication as well as pain and fever medication, like ibuprofen
  • Decongestants and anti-histamines, especially for those who have allergies and are susceptible to colds
  • Antacid tablets
  • Motion sickness tablets in case you’re on a cruise or are hitting up rides on your vacation
  • Sunscreen
  • Basic first-aid supplies, including Band-Aids, anti-bacterial gel and anti-bacterial wipes in case you fall

But for the best way to stay healthy, Parode says, there’s no substitute for washing your hands.