10-Step Pre-Travel Checklist

August 7, 2015

10 Step Pre-Travel Checklist

Staying healthy while away from home is vital to making your trip happy and enjoyable. However, it’s well documented that between 30% to 50% of travellers will get sick during a 2 week trip. All travellers, no matter their age or destination, should be aware of potential health issues and educate themselves prior to leaving about how to prevent and minimise a range of common health problems.

At Globe Medical, we strong advise our patients to observe the following pre-travel checklist to minimise their risks while away.

1. Travel Insurance

If you don't have money for travel insurance then you don't have enough money to travel. 

Make sure your Travel insurance covers all medical expenses (including hospital treatment), along with flight interruptions or cancellations, loss of baggage and theft of valuables. Read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) carefully before purchasing. Remember, if you decide to extend your travel then you should also extend your travel insurance cover. We suggest that you always carry your Travel Insurer’s emergency contact details with you.

There are many cases where uninsured  travellers have had serious accidents overseas that have resulted in costly medical bills totalling tens of thousands of dollars. Never think that it won’t happen to you!

2. Passport Valid for at least 6 months

A valid Australian passport won’t be a problem for entering and departing Australia no matter how close it is to the expiration date. However, some foreign countries may restrict entry if there is insufficient validity remaining on a visitor’s passport. Ensure you know the validity and visa requirements  in each country you will be travelling.

If you need to renew your passport or you are applying for a passport for the first time, allow up to 3 weeks to receive your new passport.

3. Doctors letter if you have a pre-existing medical condition

Ensure you take a doctor’s letter that documents any pre-existing medical condition/s andincludes the contact details of your specialist, who can be contacted if required.

4. Details and prescription for any medication being taken

Make sure you have a letter from your doctor that explains what medicines you are carrying, the amounts and states the medicine is for personal use. Customs may detain any medication that does not have accompanying details.

We suggest you check that all medications you are taking are legal at your destinations.

5. Required or Recommended Vaccinations

Vaccinations can prevent you from contracting some diseases while travelling. We recommended you consult your local GP or travel medicine expert such as Globe Medical, no less than 4 to 6 weeks prior to your departure.

Is it OK to see your local doctor or should I see a travel medicine specialist? Here are the throughts of our Medical Director, Dr Bob Kass.

Before leaving, Globe Medical's travel doctors can review your routine vaccinations and update these where necessary, as well as discuss specific vaccines that may be required for the region/s you’re visiting.  New vaccines are constantly being released and the risk profiles of regions continue to change so ensure you receive expert advice that’s up to date and destination specific.

We discuss how you can manage and treat any pre-existing medical conditions that may flare up while you’re away. To find out more visit our Travel Medicine clinical centre.

6. Knoweldge about Malaria risk if relevant

Malaria is a disease transmitted by mosquitos in some tropical areas. It kills about 2 million people a year globally and makes more than 300 million people sick. About 500 Australians catch malaria when travelling, and a few have died in recent years. Many previously malarial regions of the world, notably South East Asia and South America have dramatically reduced the malaria problem to just a few rural pockets. Other areas such as Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and much of Africa continue to struggle or worsen. 

Currently,  three main kinds of drugs to prevent malaria are available to travellers. However, individually they don’t suit everyone, and should be selected by doctor and traveller together, with awareness of common side effects and the traveller’s medical history. 

When considering malaria, the golden rules are:

  • Be AWARE of the risks in the areas you plan to visit and of the nature of the illness

  • AVOID  MOSQUITO BITES especially between dusk and dawn

  • Use CHEMOPROPHYLAXIS (preventive medicine)

  • Get DIAGNOSED early if you are sick or have a fever and you have been in a malarial area in the last 6 months. 

7. Dental check in last 6 months

Before undertaking any overseas travel it is wise to book in for a dental checkup. Suffering from a painful toothache in a remote area or having a dental emergency overseas can ruin your travel plans.

8. Appropriate medical kit with instruction on its use

Ensure your medical kit is designed to meet the requirements of your trip. Globe Medical’s Travel Medicine Kits allow travellers to self-manage common health problems they may face while away such as diarrhoea, skin conditions, upper respiratory tract infections, allergies, cuts and scratches, motion sickness, altitude sickness and pain. 

9. First Aid Kit for Adventure Travellers and Surfers

Surfers and outdoor adventurers are at higher risk of injury and accidents than ordinary travellers.  Cuts, scrapes, abrasions, bites, stings and sunburn are inherently more common which means a specially developed first aid kit is required.

Globe Medical has specifically designed first-aid kits for trekkers and surfers.

10. Thrombosis (DVT) prevention socks for those at increased risk

The risk of a clot or Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) during long haul travel is small but the event can be life-threatening. Factors increasing the risk of DVT include trips longer than 12 hours, frequent travel, being over 40 years of age, some types of medications (e.g. the contraceptive pill), a family history of abnormal clotting and being overweight. 

The risk of a clot or Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) during long haul travel is small but the event can be life-threatening. Factors increasing the risk of DVT include trips longer than 12 hours, frequent travel, being over 40 years of age, some types of medications (e.g. the contraceptive pill), Wearing DVT Prevention Socksare will help promote blood flow and keep swelling down on long haul flights. Other measures you can take to help avoid DVT are:

  • Having an exercise routine while seated

  • Get up from a seated position and move around

  • Maintain hydration levels and limit the consumption of alcohol on flights

  • When seated check that nothing is pressing on the back of your legs

  • a family history of abnormal clotting and being overweight. 

The Little Book

An expanded version of these 10 points can be found is provided in The Little Book which you will receive at your visit to Globe Medical or via your Apple device as an iBook. The Little Book - Staying Healthy While Travelling is a self help guide that aims to give the remote traveller targeted information about travel health issues such as travellers diarrhoea, insect borne diseases, emerging infectious diseases, accidents and challenging environments while overseas.

 

Additional Resources

Climate - www.weather-and-climate.com
Security Issues - www.smarttraveller.gov.au
Disease Issues - www.cdc.gov
Recent Disease Outbreaks - www.who.int

 

Related Globe Medical Resources

Audio - Is it OK to see my local doctor, or should I see a Travel Medicine specialist?

Audio - The Evolution of the Travel Medicine industry

Blog - A Travel Doctor’s Guide to Preventing Jet Lag

 

Sources

Australian Passport Office