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Women on the Road

Essential Health Information for Travel: Resource Page
What Every Traveling Woman Needs to Know

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Health information for travel abroad probably isn't foremost on your mind - until you decide to take that trip and actually need the information.

International travel health isn't something you can overlook, whatever your health status or age, especially if you're traveling solo or in less than hospitable places.

First aid kit for travelersA good first aid kit is essential

Health information for travel - before you go

A number of countries have their own health requirements and won't let you in unless you comply.

Usually these involve international travel vaccinations, such as cholera or yellow fever. In some cases, countries require disclosure, such as of HIV status, for example, although many HIV-positive people simply choose to boycott those countries. (For great advice on what vaccinations you need, see Your Body Meets the World, a free publication.)

If you suffer from it, you'll have to consider avoiding jet lag. Some travelers don't feel it at all, but for others, half a dozen time zones can mean a week or more of discomfort. Yet much can be done to both prevent and cure jet lag. You may also want to know how to treat motion sickness, especially if you're planning long bus or train trips.

Do you suffer from any travel phobias - flying, heights, spiders or other crawling beasts? It might be wise to deal with these before you go. If you suffer from fear of flying, this excellent course might help (it did me).

If you're taking any medication, such as for high blood pressure or menopause, check with your doctor before you travel. You may have to take medication with you, as well as your doctor's prescriptions. Most large foreign cities have pharmacies where you can usually fill a prescription, but that won't be the case if you're in a rural or wild part of the word.

Perhaps the most important travel and health precaution you should take before you go (other than buying some travel insurance, that is) is to get fit! These travel fitness tips can help you get ready for your trip, and keep you fit on the road, as can this page on how to stay healthy traveling.

Health information for travel - once you're on the road

While most travel is painless and illness-free, it's still wise to equip yourself with the right medical gear: this first aid kit checklist will help you gather what you need.

In areas of high heat and dryness, you'll need to protect yourself from heat exhaustion, sunstroke and dehydration. Protection from the cold is essential if you head to the extreme North or South or any region that experiences cold weather. In humid regions, protection against dampness will be essential. For travel to high places, altitude sickness is a very real danger.

Water is known to carry disease and proper precautions will be needed when it comes to ensuring drinking water safety. Diarrhea can strike when least expected so be aware of the dangers.

malaria mosquitoMosquito bites can range from harmless to deadly

In some parts of the world, the dangers of reptile or mosquito bites are very real. Remember, avoiding malaria is a priority: left untreated, it can be deadly, as can dengue, but both can usually be prevented with the proper precautions. You can best avoid most of these by wearing mosquito repellent clothing or using a mosquito net or tent - or if it's critters you abhor and you're headed for the tropics, don't forget your favorite pair of leech socks.

If you have any thought of being sexually active during your trip, you'll have to guard against sexually transmitted infections and contend with contraception, so take a look at these birth control travel tips.

As women, we have a range of health issues we need to consider - from menstruation to menopause, and cystitis is common among women travelers, as are such infections as thrush or candida. These travel personal hygiene tips for women may help, as will discussions on whether to use a diva cup, a tampon or a pad for your period as you travel.

If you're not well you might consider an ayurvedic clinic if you're traveling in South Asia: you'll have a chance to slow down and get back in touch with yourself.

word of warning before you set off: please confirm all the information on these pages yourself by undertaking your own research and getting advice from your own doctor or health adviser. The health information for travel presented here is based on my own personal knowledge and research, but I am not a medical or health practitioner of any kind so any information I provide is my personal opinion or observation, nothing more.

Finally, you'll need the most up-to-date travel health warnings - laws change, diseases mutate, cures are found. To enjoy safe travel, make sure you get the latest health advice for travel so you're properly prepared. The CDC website has an excellent alphabetical list of travel health information around the world.

For a solo trek in the Amazon once, my doctor gave me some 'killer' painkillers in case I broke an ankle or something equally serious. They wouldn't heal me in any way but would kill the pain enough to get me somewhere to call for help.

That's an extreme case and of course the worst I suffered on that trip were nasty mosquito bites but still, being prepared is always preferable, especially if your support system is limited - to yourself.

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