Essential tips to become a seasoned traveller.

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Fit and vibrant senior couple, arms linked, cheerfully posing for a photo in front of a textured blue wall.Have you been bitten by the travel bug? Whether you have a serious case of wanderlust but haven’t decided where to go, or have meticulously planned a backpacking trek with your friends, you’ll want to truly enjoy the experience and return home safe and sound.

Did you know that 20–90% of Canadians travelling to high-risk regions (low and middle income countries) spend a portion their vacations sick with travellers’ diarrhea? 1 When travelling abroad, it’s important to remember that many countries do not maintain the same standards of safety, hygiene or medical care, so it is crucial to take extra precautions to reduce the risk of travel-related illness and disease.2

By following five essential travel tips while you are abroad you’ll become a seasoned traveler in no time:

1. Visit your local healthcare provider

Visit your local travel healthcare provider at least six weeks before departing on your trip to ensure you have up-to-date vaccinations, including any necessary travel vaccinations.3 They can help you protect against vaccine-preventable diseases.

2. Be wary of certain water2

Diseases like Hepatitis A and typhoid fever can be transmitted when you consume contaminated food or water (including ice cubes!). Other infections can be contracted in public bathrooms and even water parks.2 When consuming water abroad, always ensure:

  • You only drink bottled water, or that tap water has been thoroughly boiled before consuming
  • Only use ice made with purified water
  • Brush your teeth with bottled water
  • Avoid swimming, bathing or washing clothes in contaminated/polluted water

3. Be careful when trying new foods2

Tasting local cuisines is one of the best parts of travelling to new parts of the world, but some foods may leave you feeling sick. Travellers’ diarrhea is most commonly caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites found in local water supplies that are used for preparing foods. When trying new foods abroad, always remember:

  • Only consume food that has been well cooked and is still hot when served
  • Avoid eating food from street vendors
  • Stick to fruits and vegetables that require peeling
  • Steer clear of uncooked or raw foods like salads or shellfish

4. Beware of bugs2

Infected insects like mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and flies are common carriers of travel-related illnesses like dengue fever, malaria or tick-borne encephalitis. Refer to the tips below to protect yourself from bug-related disease and illness:

  • Be aware of peak biting times in areas where you are travelling (for example, day or night-biting mosquitoes)
  • When possible, wear clothes that limit your skin exposure (light-coloured clothes that have long sleeves, shirts tucked into pants, pants tucked in socks, etc.)
  • Use insect repellant containing DEET, which is most effective
  • If travelling to an area with malaria, consult your health care provider or travel health clinic about anti-malaria medication

5. Feeling ill once you return? Visit your healthcare provider2

If you feel sick upon your return to Canada, even if you took prescribed travel medications, see a health care provider immediately and explain where you travelled.

REFERENCES:

  1. Government of Canada. An Advisory Committee Statement (ACS) Committee to Advise on Tropical Medicine and Travel (CATMAT). Statement on Travellers’ Diarrhea. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/tmp-pmv/catmat-ccmtmv/diarrhea-diarrhee-eng.php
  2. Government of Canada. Well on Your Way – A Canadian’s Guide to Healthy Travel Abroad. https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/publications/well-on-your-way
  3. Government of Canada. Travel Health and Safety. Vaccination. https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/vaccines