Timely Tips for Healthy and Safe International Summer Travel
At the GBTA conference, International SOS offers advice all international travelers need to know
"In the summer months, many people take trips further from home, often to unfamiliar destinations, where they tend to spend more time outdoors," said Robert L. Quigley, M.D., D.Phil., Regional Medical Director and Vice President of Medical Assistance at International SOS. "During this busy season, extra vigilance and advance planning can go a long way toward avoiding many common summer travel problems."
While each destination has its own set of unique challenges, these tips are applicable to most international travel locations.
- Watch the road – Traffic accidents are one of the main reasons for International SOS evacuations. Road safety is extremely important. In many countries, it is not advisable to rent a car and drive it yourself, even though it may seem like a good option. It is better to hire a trusted and vetted provider who knows the local language, rules of the road and highway conditions. Arrange transportation from the airport ahead of time. Always wear a seatbelt, and don't travel by motorcycle, moped or auto rickshaw. For more information on road safety, check out the Global Road Safety Partnership - www.grsproadsafety.org.
- Test the waters – Each summer travel season, International SOS sees a rise in water-related accidents and illness. When swimming, remember that the water does not need to be very deep to cause trouble. Swift currents, rocks, tree branches and other submerged objects can cause serious harm. While resort beaches typically have lifeguards, public beaches and those off the beaten track often do not. When combined with alcohol consumption and an unfamiliar environment, the dangers mount significantly. When it comes to consuming liquids, from tap water to ice cubes, be sure to familiarize yourself with the country's water safety recommendations to avoid illness, and when in doubt, stick to sealed, bottled water.
- Mind the bite – Bites and scratches from animals and insects – including dogs, cats, monkeys, bats and mosquitoes – can cause major issues for travelers. Rabies is fatal unless treated, and that treatment is not readily available in many locations. Keep your distance from animals when traveling and avoid the temptation to pet them, no matter how cute they may look. For travelers with severe allergies, be sure to carry a fresh epinephrine injection provided by your physician for immediate response to a foreign bite. There have also been outbreaks of malaria, dengue – and recently in the Caribbean – chikungunya, so take precautions to prevent mosquito bites like using a good repellent and wearing light colored clothing.
- Manage medications – When traveling, carry a copy of the prescription written by your physician and keep all medications in their original containers with labels intact. Note that some medications must be kept within a certain temperature range. Avoid leaving these prescriptions in a hot luggage compartment or car trunk. Bring at least a week's worth of extra doses of any medication you take regularly, to avoid running out if you are sidetracked by an extended travel delay. Fake medications are prevalent in some parts of the world and can be extremely dangerous, so it's important to bring originals from home.
- Protect your skin – One of the quickest and most damaging injuries affecting travelers is sunburn, particularly in locations close to the Equator where the sun is strongest. Exposed and unprotected skin can burn in as little as 15 minutes, and those burns can become quite severe. An SPF of 45+ is recommended, as is limiting time spent in direct sun light, particularly during peak hours (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Reapply sunscreen often, particularly after enjoying a dip in the pool or ocean.
- Observe surroundings – Many travelers let their guard down when touring a new country, when, in fact, this is the time to be most vigilant. Robbery and pick-pocketing are problems in many places, even cities that are not known for high crime rates. Always keep your credit cards, cash, and passport concealed in an interior pocket, and store copies of your travel documents in a secure place in your hotel room. Limit the risk of walking into the trap of a scam artist by leaving valuables at home and remaining in touch with your traveling companions.
- Call before it's an emergency – Many travelers assume they will be able to get immediate medical attention should a minor annoyance turn into a more urgent problem. However, in many countries that is not the case. In some locations, it can take hours or days to locate and travel to an appropriate, medical treatment centre. When you are in unfamiliar territory, you can't afford to wait and see if a problem worsens. Travelers should act quickly at the first sign of a health issue and seek help through a travel assistance provider or local resource as soon as possible.
For more tips for travelers, visit http://traveltips.internationalsos.com.
About International SOS (www.internationalsos.com)
International SOS (www.internationalsos.com) is the world's leading medical and travel security risk services company. We care for clients across the globe, from more than 700 locations in 89 countries. Our expertise is unique: More than 11,000 employees are led by 1,200 doctors and 200 security specialists. Teams work night and day to protect our members. We have pioneered a range of preventative programmes and offer an unparalleled response to emergencies. We are passionate about helping clients put 'Duty of Care' into practice. With us multinational corporate clients, governments and NGOs can mitigate risks for their people working remotely or overseas.
For more information or to arrange to speak with any of the International SOS presenters, members of the media are invited to visit Booth #1919 at GBTA or contact:
+1 215-942-8040 (office)
+1 215-500-3390 (cell)
For International SOS