Your Health Library
Traveling? Take Steps to Reduce Your Risk for Infection
The demands of work and family don't always allow us to control when or where we have to travel.
Being prepared and staying alert can help reduce your risk of infection. Protect yourself with the following instructions:
Monitor your destination's situation before you go and while you're there. Start by visiting frequently updated websites of reliable organizations, such as the CDC, the World Health Organization, and the Pan American Health Organization.
Get vaccinated. Be sure you have the right immunizations. Be aware that some vaccinations require multiple doses and must be started weeks before your departure date.
Know your health care options. Identify health care providers and hospitals in the area you'll be visiting. Make sure all your routine vaccinations, including seasonal influenza vaccine, are up-to-date before you leave home. Talk to your doctor about whether you should take an antiparasitic drug to prevent malaria or take antiviral drugs based on your travel destination.
Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands often with water and soap or hand gels containing at least 60% alcohol. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then put the tissue in the trash. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve.
Be aware of how you feel. If you develop a fever, sore throat, diarrhea that continues more than a few days or is bloody, nausea or vomiting, or other concerning symptoms, see a doctor immediately. Avoid contact with other people while ill. If you're ill before traveling, delay your plans. Stay home from school or work if you become ill once you return.
Stay home for the holidays if you're sick. If you or a family member has symptoms of flu or other illness, consider spending the holidays at home. Talk with your health care provider to find out what can be done, and when it would be safe to travel. You shouldn't travel until at least 24 hours after all symptoms are gone. Some airports screen people for certain flu symptoms, such as fever, and your travel may be delayed if you show these symptoms.
Keep sick holiday visitors from spreading germs. The holidays often bring many family members and friends together under one roof and germs can spread easily this way. If symptoms of flu or other illness show up while you are visiting relatives or friends, urge the sick person to avoid others and use a private room and bathroom if possible.
For additional travel guidance, visit the CDC.
Online Medical Reviewers:
MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Winsor, Suzy DNP, RN
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care.
Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.