By Joseph Hanna
NOTHING RUINS A trip like getting hit
with an unexpected illness, but staying
healthy when traveling can be easier said than
done. So put your mind at ease when preparing to visit your next destination by following
these simple tips to make your traveling experience safer and more enjoyable.
What should you do
before you go?
Make sure you are up to date with your
immunizations prior to departure to protect
yourself from a vaccine-preventable illness.
Also, ask your doctor or pharmacist what
additional vaccines are needed for certain
destinations. Remember to always give yourself enough time to get immunized, as some
vaccines, such as those for hepatitis, are
required weeks before departure.
Certain illnesses cannot be prevented by
immunization, including malaria, which is a
serious infection spread by mosquito bites
that is prevalent in some destinations. The
best way to reduce your risk for malaria is to
protect yourself against mosquito bites and
take a preventive antimalarial medication.
Talk to your doctor prior to departure
about getting a prescription for an antibiotic
in case you get hit with a bad case of diarrhea
abroad. Also, Dukoral, a vaccine that protects
against traveler’s diarrhea, is available without a prescription at your local pharmacy.
Sometimes emergency medical care is
needed while traveling, and this may lead to
expensive hospital bills that are not covered
by insurance. For this reason, if you don’t
already have it through work, prepare for the
unexpected by obtaining medical travel
insurance prior to your trip.
What should you pack?
When packing, it’s a good idea to
include a travel first-aid kit containing certain medications and supplies that may not
be readily available at your destination.
Such items may include:
; Pain reliever (e.g., acetaminophen)
; Antacid for heartburn and indigestion (e.g., calcium carbonate)
; Anti-diarrheal for stomach upset
; Anti-nausea medication for motion
sickness (e.g., dimenhydrinate)
; Insect repellent (e.g., DEET)
; Laxative for constipation (e.g., senna)
; Oral rehydration salts in case of
dehydration (e.g., Gastrolyte)
; Hydrocortisone cream/ointment for
mild skin irritations
; Sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher)
; Topical antibiotic cream/ointment and
adhesive bandages for skin cuts and infections
; Sleep aid in case of jet lag (e.g.,
Some of these items may not be right for
What should you do
you, so it’s important to discuss them with
your doctor or pharmacist if you’re unsure.
For more information on safer travels, visit
the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention’s website at
Traveler’s diarrhea is very common
among people on the road. It’s often spread
through contaminated food or drinking
water. Lower your chances of getting it by following these tips:
; Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it
or forget it!
; Wash your hands frequently and
carry hand sanitizer.
; Avoid uncooked foods (e.g., shellfish)
and foods washed with potentially unsafe
water (e.g., salads, fruits and vegetables
without a peel).
; Drink clean (e.g., bottled or disinfected) water only.
; Avoid ice cubes and “street food.”
; Use bottled water when brushing teeth.
Stay safe and healthy, and have fun! C
Joseph Hanna, B.Sc. Phm., CDE,
CGP, is a Costco Pharmacy professional
services manager in Canada.
The Costco Connection
Costco members will find most everything
they need to pack for healthy travel
at Costco, in the Costco pharmacies and
on Costco.com. Members can also check
Costco.com under “Locations” for Costco
locations that may be at their destination in
the United States or abroad.
medical care is
needed while traveling,
and this may lead
to expensive hospital
bills that are not
covered by insurance.
on your travels