Travel - pre-departure

Make sure you're healthy before you start traveling. If you're embarking on a long trip, make sure your teeth are OK. If you wear glasses or contact lenses take a spare pair and your prescription.

If you require a particular medication take an adequate supply, as it may not be available locally. Take the prescription or, better still, part of the packaging showing the generic rather than the brand name (which may not be locally available), as it will make getting replacements easier. It's wise to have a legible prescription or a letter from your doctor with you to prove that you legally use the medication to avoid any problems.

Health Insurance

A travel-insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical problems is a wise idea. There is a wide variety of policies available and your travel agent will be able to make recommendations. The international student-travel policies handled by STA Travel and other student travel organizations are usually good value. Some policies offer lower and higher medical-expense options but the higher ones are chiefly for countries like the USA which have extremely high medical costs. Check the small print.

Some policies specifically exclude 'dangerous activities', including scuba diving, motorcycling and even trekking. If such activities are on your agenda then you don't want that sort of policy. A locally acquired motorcycle license may not be valid under your policy.

You may prefer a policy which pays doctors or hospitals direct rather than you having to pay on the spot and claim later. If you have to claim later make sure you keep all documentation. Some policies ask you to call back (reverse charges) to a centre in your home country where an immediate assessment of your problem is made.

Check if the policy covers ambulances or an emergency flight home.

Medical Kit

It is sensible to carry a small, straightforward medical kit. A kit should include:


For some countries no immunizations are necessary, but the further off the beaten track you go the more necessary it is to take precautions. Be aware that there is often a greater risk of disease with children and in pregnancy.

Leave plenty of time to get your vaccinations before you set off: some of them require an initial shot followed by a booster, and some vaccinations should not be given together. It is recommended you seek medical advice at least six weeks prior to travel.

Record all vaccinations on an International Health Certificate, which is available from your physician or government health department.

Discuss your requirements with your doctor, vaccinations which may be required include:

Malaria Medication

Anti-malarial drugs do not prevent you from being infected but kill the malaria parasites during a stage in their development and significantly reduce the risk of becoming very ill or dying. Expert advice on medication should be sought, as there are many factors to consider including the area to be visited, the risk of exposure to malaria-carrying mosquitoes, the side effects of medication, your medical history and whether you are a child or adult or pregnant. Travelers to isolated area in high risk countries may like to carry a treatment dose of medication for use if symptoms occur.

Read more about this disease in the Malaria section.

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