I’m in the midst of finalising my preparations for a long awaited sunshine holiday to the one and only Brazil. Two weeks of touring Rio, Sao Paulo, Paraty and Ilha Grande with my boyfriend and friends – we’re all set for the adventure.
Or at least I thought I was, until I realised a week before departure that I hadn’t checked out my vaccination status. I recalled having a medical check before my last long haul visit to Thailand, but in all honesty, I had no idea whether they would still be valid…. I’d misplaced my medical card.
Obviously, having vaccinations just a few days before departure was not ideal. The queasy feeling, the arm ache – not nice. Unfortunately negotiating a GP appointment at my local NHS centre (where I can never get an appointment in less than three weeks) was not going to happen. The Receptionist gave me a telling off on three separate phone calls and I came away thinking ‘I’m sure I’ll be fine…..’ but that shouldn’t be enough.
Some research online confirmed that my nearest hospital actually had a travel clinic, specifically for cases like my own. One more call to my GP confirmed that a couple of inoculations had expired, information that I used to get a booking at my local clinic… on a Saturday… within an hour of calling them – unheard of I know!
Luckily, a chat with the doctor there confirmed that actually, I would be fine for this trip. The vaccinations that I needed could wait until my return without putting me at any risk. I still wanted to take some time to share tips about preparing medically for your next trip.
Find out about your destination
Find out about the local environment and bear in mind the type of activities that interest you. Will you be in or around water? Do you eat street food? Plan to spend time catching the sun? Do you plan to travel to neighbouring areas? All of these and more are questions that you need to ask yourself in order to take the right precautions.
Visit your GP or health centre
Find out about vaccinations or medication that you might need whilst abroad, be aware of the expiry date on vaccinations so that you can have them taken at a suitable time before your trip. If you’re not sure about expiry dates then a quick phone call is all that’s usually needed for clarification. Don’t forget the travel insurance.
Prescriptions and translations
If you’re taking medication then be sure to not only pack enough (plus a little extra) for the duration of your trip, but also to have copies of your prescriptions and full ingredients lists to hand. Should anything happen during your trip, it’s best to be sure that you can get a stock of the correct product. Consider translations of the medical name too!
Get your documents in order
I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again – ensure that you have copies of all documents that you need for your trip and leave copies with a trusted friend or family member at home. Ensure that your passport is valid with at least six months of validity (sometimes more) and that you know about any visa requirements beforehand.
Most importantly, travel safe and be responsible. Your health should always be a priority yet a bit of fore-planning can help to ensure that it’s not a stressful experience.