Thinking about traveling again soon? Then buckle up as we share great travel pro tips! We'll talk about the considerations you should undertake before you go on your trip. Dr. Alaina Rajagopal and Dr. Justin Yanuck start with basic things you should do before any trip. They also discuss special considerations for travel in the era of COVID. Packed full of information, this episode is a must-listen.
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Travel Pro Tips With Dr. Justin Yanuck
How to Get Back Out There and See the World
Please keep in mind that the content of this episode does not constitute medical advice, but as purely for the purpose of education, this episode focuses on travel. The COVID pandemic has shown signs of improvement, and many people are starting to think about traveling again. At The Emergency Docs, we love to travel and are so excited to see this happen. That said, there are additional considerations that one should think about taking in this new era of travel. In this episode, we are going to quickly review some of the considerations for travel.
First, we are going to talk about some of the diseases that exist prior to the pandemic. Basically, it is all the things that you need to do every time before you travel. Taking a trip is a great time to review your vaccines with your doctor. You should ask your doctor if you are up-to-date on standard vaccines things like the Tdap, which is the thing that prevents tetanus, Diphtheria, and pertussis, and depending on where you are going, you may need additional vaccines that you might not need in the US things like rabies, yellow fever or typhoid.
The CDC publishes information on their website about these vaccines needed for travel to all the destinations in the world so that you can familiarize yourself with that information or that information on the CDC. However, you are going to need to speak with a qualified medical professional who is able to assess your travel needs and what is best for you.
Find a good travel doctor if you are planning to go internationally. There are nuances to travel medicine that your family doctor may not have been trained to evaluate. You can find a listing of travel clinics in your area at CDC.gov/Travel. It is important to see a travel doctor at least one month prior to leaving for your trip because there are certain cases where you might need a series of vaccines that must be administered over the course of one month or even more sometimes. It may take several weeks for the vaccine to be fully effective after it has been administered. It is best to see the travel doc around two months prior to departure to be sure you have enough time to get your vaccines and medications in order.
It's a good idea to bring a copy of your travel itinerary, especially if you're moving around a lot.
Now that you found a good doctor and you are getting all the information about your vaccine, it will be important to discuss your unique travel situation with that doctor. You will need to know things like your basic medical history, what medications you are taking, where you are planning to travel, and for how long you will spend in each location.
Specifics are important here. For example, there are some areas of some countries where you need to take anti-malarial medications, but if you go to a different part of the country, you won’t need to take those anti-malarial medications. It is going to be a good idea to bring a copy of your travel itinerary, especially if you are moving around a lot.
If you are planning to take a trip into the backcountry, going on an expedition, or will be in an area without nearby medical assistance, your doctor may recommend that you take certain medications with you in case you become ill. This could include antibiotics in case of diarrhea illness, pain medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, anti-malarial medications, prophylaxis for altitude, or others depending on your individual trip. If you go CDC.gov/travel, you can select your individual destination and find out all about different diseases and hazards you might encounter so that you can prepare for them.
These next points we will give you is, we highly recommend to make sure that you have enough normal medication just in case of travel delays or problems. Especially with COVID, where oftentimes you will have an incidental positive or true positive test, and you will be forced to stay for 7 to 10 days, sometimes even 14 days in a country. We recommend that at least a couple of days, but usually 7 to 10 days of extra medication, just in case. In some cases, this may require that you contact your insurance company to get approval for months of medications in advance.
If you have a serious or chronic illness and your doctors approve you for travel, it is always a good idea to check out the local health facilities before you travel so that if you do have an issue, you know where to go in advance and you don’t have to worry about finding them once you are dealing with an emergency. Keep the names and addresses of local hospitals or clinics with you so you can easily find where to go if you need them. If you have a very serious illness or the possibility of becoming ill on a trip is high, you may even want to consider bringing a medical professional on the trip with you.
It is also good to put your medical conditon written down in the language of the country where you are traveling, especially if you don’t speak the language. If you use special equipment, it is also useful to have instructions for you in the language of the country where you are traveling and maybe even extra parts in case something gets lost or broken.
Keep your medications and special equipment or anything that you literally can’t live without on your person and in your carry-on bag. If you need something critical for the trip, make sure to always carry it with you and don’t check it. For example, if you are going on a trip to run a marathon, you would carry your race shoes with you on the plane. The same thing goes for your medications. If it is something that would ruin your trip if it gets lost, don’t let it get lost.
Guidelines and regulations are constantly changing based on case numbers. It’s important to keep in mind that cultural attitudes and norms may be different in the country or region you are visiting compared to your own. Be respectful of local guidelines. It is proven to continue to wear masks as often as possible while traveling since you will likely be exposed to many people you don’t know.
Keep in mind cultural that attitudes and norms may be different in the country or region you are visiting compared to your own. Be respectful of local guidelines.
If you are traveling internationally, it is highly likely that you will have to obtain a COVID test before you travel and before you return home. There are many companies that specialize in the fast turnaround time required for travel, but most of them are not cheap. Many airports offer the service outside the airport or even in the terminals. Check out what is available where you are planning to travel. It goes without saying, but if you have a positive test, please don’t attempt to travel and especially don’t travel if you have symptoms of illness.
Different destinations and airlines will require rapid test in the news. Most seems to require a PCR test while some accept the rapid antigen test. Some destinations even mandate where the swab must be taken from, meaning some places might not accept the test where your throat was swabbed because they only accept nasal swabs. Make sure you know the regulations for your airline and destination.
I have a story about this. Before the war in Ukraine, I was traveling to Russia to climb Mount Elbrus. We showed up at the airport to leave and they would not let us board the plane because the flight that we booked was not a direct flight. As an American traveling on an American passport, I needed to have a direct flight to Russia. We had to go home and then fly on a different flight the next day.
We used a travel agent, but everything is changing so rapidly that travel agents may not even know about these changes. It can be hard to figure out where to look, but if you have any questions, it can be a good idea to call your airline and make sure that you can travel to the country on that airline on the itinerary.
CDC is up ahead on the United States but also the US Embassy and every country usually posts the most updated guidelines for entering and leaving that country. That is what I have used in my travel during COVID for the various countries like the embassies database.
I can’t remember where the regulation was listed, but it was buried on a government website somewhere, so you have to do the research. Make sure your COVID vaccinations are up-to-date for the best protection from the virus. If you do contract COVID while traveling, you may have to quarantine in the country where you are visiting prior to being able to get on a plane to get home. Be prepared with your extra medication and extra funds in case this happens. In all likelihood, you don’t have to pay for your hotel or lodging during this quarantine.
Airlines in the United States will require a mask for the entirety of the flights. Make sure to follow the regulations and rules of airlines where you are traveling. It is probably prudence to wear a mask as much as possible on public transportation to prevent being caught in an unwanted quarantine situation in the country you are visiting.
If you would like further information on current travel regulations and recommendations, you can always check the travel section of the CDC website, which is a great resource. We hope these quick tips were helpful. Happy travels. That’s it for this episode. If you like what you learned, please give us a rating, comment, or subscribe. This episode was supported by the National Geographic Emergency Fund for Journalists. Until next time.
About Dr. Justin Yanuck
I represent a very small minority of physicians who are dual trained in both emergency medicine and interventional pain medicine. With my background in clinical translational research I hope to develop a career that furthers both fields.
I also strive to create a platform that expands access to quality outpatient pain medicine. I have never been one that settles for the path most traveled. I find myself most excited and passionate about projects that are outside of the box, and by projects that require me to utilize all of my skills.