While You’re Away

Looking after your health while you’re away.

  • Avoid walking barefoot. Wear rubber flip-flops when you are at community pools and beaches.
  • Avoid drinking, swimming, paddling, or wading in, fresh water unless you know it is bilharzia-free. Bilharzia is a fresh-water parasitic disease that is common in most rural areas of tropical Africa. It is also present in tropical areas of South America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Asia. In the tropics, any body of fresh water that contains vegetation can also contain bilharzia-transmitting snails.
  • Limit your sun exposure, especially in the tropics. Sun intensity and ultraviolet radiation are usually strongest between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm.
    • Use sunscreen with at least SPF15.
    • Wear CSA/ANSI rated ultraviolet blocking sunglasses, a wide brimmed hat, and light-colored, loose-fitting cotton or linen clothing.
  • If you have a chronic health condition or special health needs, such as diabetes, allergies, asthma, or heart disease, check with your doctor or travel health specialist about whether there are any activities you should avoid or limit.
  • Take a summary of your medical history on your trip. Include your doctor’s contact information, your blood type, allergies, health conditions, prescription medications, immunizations, and other important health information.
  • Practice safer sex. Sexually transmitted infections including gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, herpes, Hepatitis B, and HIV are widespread in developing countries.
    • Abstinence is the only 100% effective safer sex method.
    • If you have sex with strangers, use good quality condoms and dental dams that you’ve brought from home.

Bring your common sense with you.

  • Practice good personal hygiene.
  • Avoid questionable activities.
  • Always use seatbelts.

For more information on looking after your health while you travel, check out these other resources:
Watch What You Drink
Watch What You Eat
Insect Precautions
Preventing Animal Bites and Scratches