With the days getting longer and warmer, exploring the outdoors is top of mind for many Northwesterners. Whether you’re packing your bags for a South Pacific adventure or are planning to hike the nearby Cascades, spring is a great time to refresh your knowledge on medical travel tips. From updating your immunization records to discerning safe water sources, Ari Gilmore, MD with the Pacific Medical Centers Travel Clinic walks us through some seasonal reminders.
Travel safety tips aren’t just for those planning a trip abroad. When exploring our own Puget Sound backyard, Dr. Gilmore recommends proactively protecting against any existing conditions such as asthma and allergies to optimize your time outdoors.
“Our city continues to be more active and adventurous, so it’s important to be mindful of outdoor safety when planning for hiking and camping trips,” says Dr. Gilmore. “For local exploration, it’s a great idea for people to set aside a condensed medical kit, light rain jacket, water filter and even a candle and matches to ensure your time outside won’t make you wish you stayed inside.”
As for global travel, Dr. Gilmore advises visiting a doctor at least three weeks in advance of your trip to review required and recommended travel vaccines, such as a malaria or yellow fever shot. He recommends giving yourself at least three weeks prior to travel to get vaccines because some require several steps spread out over time, and because their medical benefits typically won’t activate until 15 days after you receive them. As for popular destinations, Dr. Gilmore is seeing many Seattle patients choosing to travel in Southeast Asia, such as Vietnam and Thailand, closely followed by Africa.
“Every traveler should review their immunizations and vaccines as a part of their travel checklist. I also recommend that my patients visit the Centers for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov/travel to check on country travel notices and vaccine requirements, as every region differs in requirements,” explains Dr. Gilmore.
Dr. Gilmore also shares that, contrary to popular belief, it is typically safe to drink tap water in major tourist areas. For more remote regions, he suggests that it’s better to seek out bottled water or use a filter. As for food, Dr. Gilmore recommends using discretion with vendors and confirming that safe food-preparation processes are in place, such as handwashing and the use of separate cutting board areas.
In addition to prioritizing vaccine health, it’s equally important to prioritize sexual health. “Even though you’re on vacation, and part of travelling is the adventure, it’s important not to throw aside all caution, especially when it comes to sexual health. Don’t forget to pack protection and use good judgement” says Dr. Gilmore.
For more information about Pacific Medical Centers, visit www.PacMed.org or call 1.888.4PACMED.