Traveling abroad can be an incredibly exciting experience: new cultures, new food, new beaches to relax on while sipping a cocktail. However, if you aren’t careful with your health, travel can also be a miserable ordeal. This is especially true if you’ll be visiting a developing country where sanitation standards might be lower than in your home country. To avoid spending the entirety of your trip in a hotel bathroom, or worse, a hospital, be sure to make an appointment with a travel medicine specialist before jetting off on your next adventure.
What Is a Travel Clinic and How Is It Different from My Primary Care Physician?
Your primary care physician knows you better than any doctor and you should definitely get an annual checkup before setting off on your trip. However, your doctor probably isn’t an expert when it comes to infectious diseases that aren’t endemic to your home country. Your doctor can only offer general advice that would be useful for any kind of international travel, but they won’t have any tips for your specific destination. Travel clinicsare specialized in preparing travelers to prevent any health issues they might encounter during their trip. Travel medicine specialists are knowledgeable about diseases that aren’t widespread in your home country but could be prevalent at your destination.
When Should I Visit a Travel Medicine Clinic?
It’s always a good idea to schedule your travel consultation at least four to six weeks before your scheduled departure. This is usually enough time for vaccinesto take effect and for you to make any preparations recommended by your travel medicine specialist. Some vaccines require multiple doses to provide protective immunity and some vaccine schedules can be accelerated for impending travel. Check in with your travel health specialist when you start to plan your trip. They are familiar with the different vaccine schedules and can best advise you on timing of vaccines.
Where Can I Get My Travel Vaccinations?
The simplest way to get all your travel vaccinations is to make an appointmentwith a travel clinic. The vaccines necessary for your trip may not be available from your primary care provider or doctor’s office. A travel clinic is your one-stop-shop for everything health-related that you might need for your trip: vaccines, medications to prevent diseases such as malaria, and general advice about staying safe at your destination.
Do Travel Clinics Take Insurance?
Travel clinics are typically not contracted with insurance companies and cannot submit bills on your behalf. Most insurance plans consider travel related medical expenses as elective, but will sometimes cover the cost of a consultation at a travel clinic. Travel clinics operate as “fee for service” meaning that you pay at the time of your visit, but they will usually provide you with an itemized receipt that includes billing codes, that you can submit to your insurance company for reimbursement.
5 Ways a Travel Medicine Specialist Can Improve Your Trip
If you’re feeling apprehensive about your next trip, a travel medicine specialist has the expertise to put you at ease. They can assess the risks and provide you with advice and the tools to make your trip a whole lot safer. Here are just a few of the benefits of setting up a consultation with a travel medicine specialist.
Providing Recommendations for Vaccines
The most common reason for visiting a travel clinic is to receive vaccinations. Travel clinics have a wider selection of specialized vaccines on hand and they provide more in-depth consultations that are focused on your unique itinerary and activities. Getting your vaccine recommendations from a travel medicine specialist can ultimately save you time and money as they will only suggest vaccines that are necessary for your specific destination. Out of an abundance of caution, primary care physicians are more likely to recommend vaccines for any illness that is present in the country you’re going to, regardless of whether the disease is endemic to your destination city or region.
Prescribing Preventative Medications
Depending on where you’re traveling to, a set of prophylactic treatments for malaria, traveler’s diarrhea, or even antibiotics for bacterial infections may be warranted. A travel medicine specialist can walk you through the pros and cons of these medications and discuss how necessary they are for your itinerary.
Giving Advice About Pre-Existing Conditions
Doctors at a travel clinic won’t be aware of your unique health issues, so you should bring them up during your consultation, so they can discuss how those issues could be affected by your travel destination’s environment.
Educating You About Food and Water Safety
If you’re traveling to a developing country, one of the leading health risks is travelers’ diarrhea, which can be acquired from food and drinking water. Hygiene standards won’t be the same as they are in North America or Europe and in most cases you can’t drink the tap water. Your travel medicine specialist can go over all the hazards and review strategies to help you stick to safe food and water.
Help You Make a Packing List
Travel medicine specialists are not travel agents and they certainly aren’t experts on what you should wear for your beach vacation, but they can tell you what kind of essentials should go on your packing list. Things like motion-sickness tablets, non-prescription painkillers, and DEET insect repellentare just a few items that will keep you safe and comfortable during your travels.
Stay Safe on Your Next Adventure
There’s always some risk involved with travel, but with proper preparation, you can make it a much safer experience and give yourself peace of mind. Visiting a travel clinic like TravelBug Health before departing to far-off lands will ensure that you stay as healthy as possible while having a great time. We are a full-service travel clinic in Scottsdale, AZ that works with you to ensure everyone on your trip stays healthy. Contact us today to schedule a pre-travel consultation.