June 11, 2015 | by Amy Treakle MD

With the kids out of school for the summer, many families plan to travel in the next few months. Whether you’re traveling across the state or internationally it’s important to do your homework to help keep everyone feeling their best and enjoying themselves during your trip.

Planning ahead

As you plan for your trip, learn about your destination outside of which attractions to visit. Consider getting vaccinations and immunizations before you leave, including the influenza vaccine, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (TDAP) vaccine and anything more area-specific. For those traveling to Africa or India, for example, receiving antimalarial medication is highly recommended for many of the popular destinations.

It’s important to consider your current health too. Do you take medication regularly? Have you been sick recently? Are you pregnant or nursing? These factors could increase your risk of illness when exposed to local infection or disease. Talk to your primary care or travel medicine doctor about your trip before you go to get a comprehensive list of risks and precautions to prepare for the journey.

Before you leave

As you’re packing, don’t forget to prepare for potential emergencies and health issues. Generally, it’s a good idea to bring a basic first-aid kit including items like cough drops, medicine for pain or fever, bandages, gauze, tweezers and hand sanitizer or wipes. If applicable, also bring water-purification tablets and sunscreen as well as any medications you take on a regular basis.

Knowing how to take care of any potential issues is just as important. Learn the signs of dehydration and exhaustion. If traveling to greater than 8,000 feet, learn the signs of altitude sickness. Remember to get adequate sleep before and during your trip. Eat whole foods and avoid salty, sugary and fatty foods. While in public areas, such as airports, also avoid touching surfaces that may encounter many people.

During your trip

While you’re away, pay attention to your body and how you’re feeling. Are you eating balanced meals? Sleeping well? Jet-lagged? Be good to yourself! Keep your itinerary manageable and be careful about the food you eat and the water you drink. Wear sunscreen and insect repellent if you’ll be outside. Wash your hands with clean water and soap. If you are not feeling well when you get back, contact your physician and inform them you have recently traveled.

If you’re planning a more extensive trip such as traveling overseas, plan to visit a doctor well in advance of your trip. Infectious disease doctors at The Polyclinic Travel Center specialize in preparing individuals and families for regional and international travel. Find the Travel Center at The Polyclinic Madison Center, 904 7th Ave., 8th floor, Seattle, WA 98104, or call 206-860-4447.

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Written By: Amy Treakle MD