emergency preparedness

Preparing Your Personal Health for a Trip

A road trip can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. However, it can quickly turn miserable if your health happens to take a turn for the worse. The panic that arises when finding yourself sick or in urgent need of medical attention is magnified when you are hundreds of kilometres from home or in a place you are completely unfamiliar with. The following tips will help you adequately prepare for your personal health needs, both before and during your trip.

Before you leave

It is always smart to meet with your doctor before you go on holiday. Travelling can be straining on the body; speaking with your physician will help you determine whether or not your personal health is up to the task. Apart from a basic check-up, think of specific information your doctor might want to know. The following are questions that your doctor may ask.

In addition, your doctor will be able to tell you what to do in the event that you do experience a health emergency while on the road. Make sure you research the areas in which you will be travelling, so you know where the nearest hospitals or health facilities are located. If you are worried that a specific problem might arise, don’t plan on travelling to extremely remote locations. Instead, save the off-road excursions for a time when you know you are in full health.

What to pack

Be sure to bring along a medical kit that includes basic first-aid items and other common necessities. Travellers should always know exactly where these items are packed. Make them accessible; don’t keep them buried in a suitcase. In the case of an emergency, there likely will not be time to scramble around looking for them. In addition to prescription medication and insurance cards, a medical kit should include the following:

Bring medical documentation

Because you may find yourself being treated for a medical emergency by people who are not familiar with your medical conditions, it is important to always carry with you any necessary medical documentation and paperwork which can be given to medical professionals in case of an emergency. Of course, medical documentation can also be extremely confidential, so you do not want to carry that information in a place where it can easily get lost. Consider scanning any important documents and then saving them to an online drive. This provides a solid backup that can be accessed anywhere you may be travelling and by anyone who has permission.

Be cautious of food and water

The most common illnesses experienced by travellers has to do with gastro-intestinal infections from contaminated water or badly prepared food. Eat the wrong dish or drink something your body isn’t used to, and your dream holiday can quickly turn into a nightmare. Avoid these problems by eating at locations that have a good reputation, or that you have researched via online reviews. If a dish seems undercooked or poorly prepared, don’t feel as though you have to eat it—you can always go somewhere else. While it can be fun to try new foods, don't eat anything that you think your body might not be able to handle. Finally, stick to water you know has been properly treated. If you are camping on your road trip, don't drink from rivers or ponds unless you have access to a reliable water purification system.

Camping

Road trippers often camp to save money on accommodation. While this can be a smart decision, there are certain extra hazards associated with camping that you should be aware of. Frequently apply insect repellent to prevent yourself from catching any insect-borne diseases. Wearing long sleeve shirts and pants while camping or hiking can also decrease the threat of insect bites, and may also help prevent rashes from poisonous plants. If you are sleeping near water or in an area with a lot of mosquitoes, it may be helpful to invest in a mosquito net. Finally, stay away from plants and animals that you know to be dangerous (as well as ones that you don’t know anything about). Thoroughly research the area in which you will be camping and know which poisonous plants are native to the region. Wild animals frequently carry diseases and should be avoided; this includes birds, bats and small rodents. If you are bitten by an animal seek medical attention right away.

Extra health tips

Travelling can be an exhausting experience, and your immune system may not be able to remain at its strongest throughout. The following tips are simple, but they will help you avoid unwanted sickness.

While no one ever wants to experience a medical emergency while on holiday, preparing yourself for the worst will allow you to better enjoy yourself when things are at their best.

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