When you are planning to travel outside the U.S., take steps to stay healthy and safe on your trip.
Answer these questions as you plan your trip:
- Do I need any shots (vaccines) or medicines to prevent diseases?
- Will the food and water be safe?
- Will I have access to the medicines I might need during my trip?
- What happens if I get sick while I’m traveling?
- Am I at risk for health problems during travel?
Do I need any shots or medicines to prevent diseases?
There may be medicines or shots (vaccines) that you can get to protect you from local diseases. Different diseases are common in different parts of the world.
Take steps to protect yourself. For example:
- Shots can protect you from diseases like hepatitis A. You can get hepatitis A from contaminated (unsafe) food or water. It’s common in many countries, including those in Central and South America.
- Medicines can protect you from diseases like malaria. Malaria (“muh-LAIR-ee-yah”) is a disease spread by mosquitoes in some parts of the world, like Africa and Asia.
Doing your homework on the place you’ll be visiting can help you have a safe and healthy trip.
Will the food and water be safe?
In some countries, the tap water isn’t safe to drink – especially for people who aren’t used to it. Even if the tap water doesn’t affect the people who live there, it could have germs or bacteria that could make you sick.
In places where the tap water isn’t safe to drink, you need to be careful about what you eat, too. Some foods, like fresh vegetables and fruits, may not be safe to eat because they are washed or prepared with unsafe water.
Get more information about food and water safety for travelers.
Will I have access to the medicines I might need?
It can be difficult to get medicines when you are traveling. It’s always a good idea to take all the medicine you might need with you.
- Make a list of the medicines you take or might need while you are traveling. Include prescription and over-the-counter medicines.
- Pack enough for the whole trip plus extra, in case you are away longer than you plan to be.
- Keep medicines in your carry-on bag in case the luggage you check gets lost during travel.
Get more tips on what to pack to help you stay healthy.
What happens if I get sick while I’m traveling?
It can be scary if you need medical help while you are far from home – especially if you don’t speak the local language. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you are prepared.
Before you leave, make a list of the places you could go for help if you get sick. For example, the U.S. has offices – called embassies and consulates – in many parts of the world. Employees at U.S. embassies and consulates can help U.S. citizens in emergencies.
Look up the contact information for the U.S. embassy or consulate where you will be traveling.
Am I at risk for health problems during travel?
Some people are more likely to have health problems while traveling outside the U.S. Everyone needs to see a doctor before planning a trip to another country, but this is especially important for people who:
- Are pregnant
- Have a disability
- Have a health condition
- Have a weakened immune system (from HIV, for example)
Depending on your situation, the doctor may recommend that you not travel right now.