Keep the scoots away with top travel tips

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By Krunal Patel
Chatham Pharmacist

Spring travel season is here and Chatham residents have a case of the travel bug, with two-in-five Canadians planning to travel in the next six months.

It’s no surprise that after the last few years, travellers are looking for a getaway in sunny locales and tropical resorts, with relaxation at the top of their itinerary.

However, before they even leave, the thought of lost luggage and flight delays are stressing people out. With these frustrating elements being unfortunately out of our control, I’m here to remind the community about the one thing they can control when it comes to travel – protecting against common travel illnesses.

In my conversations with patients, I find many don’t realize what the health hazards are when it comes to travel, with many not knowing the simple ways they can protect themselves – even at a five-star resort. To make sure good times are the only thing you’re catching on holiday, here are my best tips to keep in mind when vacationing:

Seek expert advice: Whether you’re travelling to a tropical location or an overseas adventure, your local pharmacist can provide you with a personalized travel health consultation to help navigate potential health risks that may be prevalent in your chosen destination. 

Based on your travel health consultation, your local pharmacist is also able to administer vaccines and dispense medications to prevent certain health issues while traveling. 

When to book a travel health consultation: Ideally, you should talk to your pharmacist 6-8 weeks in advance of your planned departure date to allow time for some vaccines and medications to take effect. If you are travelling less than six weeks from when you book your appointment, your pharmacist can still provide information and recommendations and ensure you are prepared by determining which (if any) immunizations are recommended based on your travel destination, and when possible, administering the required vaccines for a fee; providing you with a current list of all medications to take with you on your travels; ensuring you have enough supply of your current prescription medications while you are away; identifying any needed prescription or over-the-counter products; and advising on the safest way to travel with your medication. 

Vaccines your pharmacist may recommend: A pharmacist can provide a personalized risk-assessment specific to you and your travel itinerary to make sure you stay healthy while on vacation. Tourists may be at risk for the following serious infectious diseases, all of which are preventable by vaccine. 

  • Cholera 
  • European tick-borne encephalitis 
  • Hepatitis A and B 
  • Influenza 
  • Japanese encephalitis 
  • Meningitis 
  • Rabies 
  • Typhoid 
  • Yellow fever 

Know your risks: Consuming contaminated water or food is one of the top ways Canadians contract illnesses like travellers’ diarrhea – the most common travel-related illness. For instance, many travellers don’t realize that ice could contain illness-causing bacteria if the water source is contaminated. Reduce your risk of contracting travellers’ diarrhea or Hepatitis A by holding the ice in any drinks.

Plan ahead: Research your destination – whether you’re at a beach in Mexico or a wellness retreat in Jamaica, it’s not only important to know about the sights you’ll see, but also any potential health risks. Your pharmacist can advise you on what common pharmacy items to include in your packing list. 

While there are many aspects of travel stress that we cannot control, your health is one thing you can. Make sure you’re informed when planning a vacation about what you can do to prevent travel illness, so that all you will come home with are good memories. 

  • Krunal Patel is the pharmacist and owner of your local Shoppers Drug Mart in Chatham. Visit ShoppersDrugMart.ca to find your nearest store.

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