Center for International and Intercultural Studies

Staying Healthy

Health Insurance

abroad traveling on mountainCheck with your health insurance provider to be sure that your policy will cover you while abroad. Also, determine the insurance company's procedure for payment or reimbursement of medical expenses. Most insurance companies will require that you pay for any medical care abroad and then reimburse you after you have filed a claim with them. Be sure to get complete receipts of the medical services provided.

If your health insurance does not provide coverage outside the United States, the Tri-S Office has information on short-term health insurance that you may purchase.

You may also go to directly for information on purchasing health insurance.

Health Precautions

See your doctor before you travel to discuss and ask any concerns or vaccination/immunization information.

Vaccinations and immunizations should be planned well in advance to allow time between visits for certain series that require it. Public health officials recommend that foreign travelers be current on polio, measles, diphtheria, and tetanus vaccinations.

Some Tri-S programs will require additional immunizations or vaccinations for yellow fever, malaria, typhoid, hepatitis, or other health risks. Information on required immunizations or vaccinations will be provided at your group meeting.

Your physician can also recommend special medications for motion sickness, traveler's diarrhea, possible infections, and infrequent headaches – just in case. Allergy sufferers...beware! Discuss your allergies with your doctor, and make sure you're prepared for potential problems in areas where the growing seasons are reversed (such as south of the equator.)

Get your new prescriptions filled, and make sure other regular prescriptions are refilled, so you'll have enough for your entire trip. Keep a copy of the prescription with you when you travel. Also, be sure and have all medications in their original containers. Take medications with you on the airplane; do not pack them in your checked luggage.

Choose your travel wardrobe for health and comfort, as well as style. One absolute must is a good pair of walking shoes. Make sure they're well broken in before leaving home. For tropical areas, clothes should be lightweight and loose fitting. Natural fabrics "breathe" better than some synthetics. In some areas, evenings get abruptly cooler after the sun goes down, so do bring a sweater or jacket.

The water may look tempting for swimming, but what you can't see might make you sick. Water quality throughout most of the world is questionable at best, particularly near populated areas. Sewage, industrial pollutants, and parasites make swimming a serious health risk.

Beach areas that are known to be safe invite other kinds of problems -- sunburn is the most common, despite repeated warnings. Don't go outside without wearing a sunscreen or sunblock.

Exotic cuisine may be delightful, but a case of traveler's diarrhea can ruin a trip. To help avoid it, be careful of what you eat and drink, especially in warm climates. First and foremost, don't trust the water. Drink bottled beverages without ice (it's water, too!) Salads and fruits need special consideration. Food washed in water, such as lettuce, may not be safe. Any fruit you might eat should be completely peeled. In some parts of the world, dairy products – milk, butter, and cheeses – aren't pasteurized. Avoid them if you can. Try to avoid foods that aren't from the region you're visiting. And raw is risky, even under the most well controlled circumstances. If you can't boil it, cook it or peel it . . . don't eat it. Eat well, but safely, and you'll have a better chance of not getting sick.