Health checks for before you start travelling

doctor conducting health checks

They always say travel is good for the soul, but it can also be good for our health, both mentally and physically.

However, travel can take a toll on the body. How many times have you said, ‘I need a holiday from my holiday?’

If you are going on a trip, it’s best to be in the best shape you can both physically and mentally before you go.

Here’s our guide to being healthy before and during your trip.

Doctor knows best

If you have a chronic or recurring medical condition, you need to see your doctor before you travel, preferably before you even start making plans. At the very least you will need their approval to travel, or it may be as simple as asking for repeat prescriptions to cover the time you are away.

If you plan on carrying prescription drugs into another country, check if they are legal or not. It could be a short-lived holiday if you are turned back at the border because you haven’t done some basic research.

Take a deep breath

If planning a holiday is stressing you out, it’s not worth it. Either put your plans aside for a few days if possible or delegate some tasks, either to a friend or family member travelling with you or a travel agent.

Travel agents have fallen out of fashion a bit, but they can be a boon if something goes wrong. Problem on a holiday? If they have booked it, they should be able to help you sort it out.

Where to go

If you do have specific health needs, you will need to take this into account when choosing a destination.

Travelling to a developing country is fine, but if it does not have the medical infrastructure to support you if things go wrong, it could be a fatal mistake.

If you have a physical disability, you will need to do some research. Ask questions about your destinations to make sure it is suitable for your needs. If it all gets a bit hard, they are plenty of travel companies who specialise in travel for people with disabilities and they can be found through a quick online search.

And of course, check if you need any shots or boosters and book them in with your doctor.

The government travel advice website Smartraveller is a good place to start to check which shots you may need, but your doctor or GP should also have a schedule.

Pack it up

Check and double check you have packed the right medication before you go. I once spoke to a travel guide who said the No. 1 thing that went wrong on tour was people forgetting their medication.

You will also probably need some over-the-counter medication including painkillers, anti-diarrhoea medication, hay fever tablets, bandaids, travel sickness pills and maybe some electrolyte tablets.

And then there are the everyday basics such as hand sanitiser, insect repellent and sunscreen. 

Insurance

Always buy travel insurance. If you have a medical condition this will need to be declared. Be aware that the coverage will probably cost you more.

Read the fine print and make sure it covers general medical treatment, emergency treatment, patient transport, medical evacuation back to Australia and injuries and accidents.

Also be aware of the things the insurance does not cover. Examples include vehicle accidents where you were not wearing a helmet or were unlicensed – so think twice about that random scooter ride in Asia – pregnancy or childbirth, accidents involving drugs or alcohol and medical costs once you are back in Australia.

It is also highly unlikely you will be covered for a country with a Smartraveller advice level of “do not travel”.

What’s your strategy for pre-travel health? Do you need to declare any health conditions? Has it affected your coverage? Why not share your tips in the comments section below?

Also read: Tips to keep your travel light

Written by Jan Fisher

Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.

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