Spring Break Travel Recommendations

If you are going on a trip, be prepared. Are you traveling abroad? Are vaccinations required? Are there special foods, water conditions, destination, or other things you need to consider ahead of time? If you are taking medications, do you have enough for the trip? Good health is a prerequisite to an enjoyable vacation and crucial while you are traveling. You may be exposed to unfamiliar climates, food, medicine, and health care systems. In many cases, a good measure of common sense and a healthy respect for your own body (and its limitations) will help to avoid medical problems. Please use the CDC website as a great resource when planning to travel this Spring Break: http://www.cdc.gov/family/springbreak/.

Medical and Dental Checkups

Medical and dental checkups prior to your departure are crucial. Remember: only your physician knows your personal medical history and can advise you if your situation warrants some alteration of the general preventive guidelines outlined here.

Vaccines and Immunizations

It is very important to make sure your immunizations are up to date. Some countries require certain immunizations before allowing foreigners in. To obtain a current record of your immunizations, contact Coe Health Services (319-399-8617) - we require this to be on file in order to attend Coe classes. Alternatively, you may also contact your primary care provider or pediatrician from home for those records. To find out what vaccines you may need prior to travel, click this link: http://www2.cdc.gov/nip/adultImmSched/.

Another excellent tool is the CDC link that allows you to type in the area you plan to travel to and recommendations will pop up specific to that area: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list/.

What to Bring

Medic Alert Emblem and Medical Records

Be sure to wear your medical alert bracelet/necklace, if you have one, for a specific medical problem (i.e., asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, food or drug allergies).

While traveling it is a wise precaution to keep personal medical records with you to be used in case of an accident or illness. A good medical record will mention ALL drugs you are taking, including any not related to disease, and identify any chronic ailments, allergies or hypersensitivities. It will also list your immunization history, blood type, eyeglass prescription, personal physician, and health insurance (along with the number of the policy). Be sure to make a photocopy of your medical records in case of loss. Carry these documents in a place that is both secure and accessible by you at all times while traveling.

Medications (prescription and over-the-counter)

  • Pack enough medication to last your entire trip, plus a little extra in case you are unexpectedly delayed. You might not be able to get your prescriptions refilled while traveling.
  • Carry your medications in their original containers with the original labels.
    • You don't want to create the impression that you're carrying drugs which haven't been prescribed to you.
  • Pack your prescriptions in your carry-on bag.
    • You don't want to be without your medication in the event that your checked luggage is lost or delayed.
  • Finally, Get a letter from your physician listing your medications, the dosage, their generic names, and why you need them.

Staying Healthy

Sun Safety

Remember to apply sunscreen often - every 2 hours, or more if you are sweating or swimming. Use at least SPF 15, and look for sunscreens with UVA and UVB protection. Sunblocks, containing zinc oxide and titanium oxide ingredients, may work best to block the sun’s harmful rays. Remember to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes, and a hat to protect your head: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/sun-safety.htm.

Eat Well

This does not mean overspending in expensive restaurants, but it does mean eating a balanced diet. Remember to drink only bottled water when traveling to certain countries, even for brushing your teeth. Vegetarians may find that maintaining a vegetarian diet abroad can be a challenge. It may be difficult to obtain enough quality fruits and vegetables to stay healthy, and meal plans may or may not include vegetarian offerings.

Traveling will bring your body into contact with different bacteria; the change can unsettle your stomach or cause other health problems. Water, including ice cubes, milk, fresh fruit and unwashed, raw vegetables could upset your system until your body adjusts to its new surroundings.

Know where to get medical treatment

Find out where health care facilities are and how to access them.

Let's talk about Sex…

Know what consent for intimacy is and respect it! Consent must be given freely and is never coerced. Silence NEVER equals consent, and consent can never be implied or assumed regardless of any previous history of sexual contact.

Take measures to reduce the risk of exposure to sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The only 100% sure way to prevent sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy is by not having sex. If you choose to have sex, using latex condoms and having a monogamous, uninfected partner may help lower your risk. Contact Coe Health Services if you have questions about sexual and reproductive health, and/or to obtain free condoms. The https://bedsider.org/ is a great resource, as well.

Alcohol, Drugs, Cigarettes

If consuming alcohol is part of your Spring break or travel plans, remember that it can impair judgment and actions. Please be responsible. Inebriation can result in poor academic performance, higher risk behavior, and/or regretted sexual activity. In many serious accidents and deaths involving students overseas, excessive alcohol consumption plays a role: http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm.

Be smoke-free and drug-free! Avoid using illegal drugs at any time: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs-charts.

Questions, concerns, or wanting more specific information?!

Contact Coe Health Services at 399-8617 or lshedek@coe.edu.