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Feb 1, 2006
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Source: Sympatico/MSN

Toolkit for healthy travel

Travelling to different countries, enjoying new foods and extreme activities without taking precautions can be hazardous to your health.

Montezuma's Revenge, Delhi Belly, Tokyo Trots. It doesn't matter how you label it, traveling to different countries, enjoying new foods and extreme activities without taking precautions can be hazardous to your health. The truth is, you can steer clear of many health risks with a little preplanning.

Don't Forget About Insurance

If you're crossing a border, don't even think of boarding that plane without health insurance. An accident that lands you in a foreign hospital for a few days can drain your bank account for years to come. Get online and do your own research, talk to your travel agent and your doctor to determine the level of coverage you'll need.

Get Your Shots

Typhoid fever, Tick-borne Encephalitis (TBE), Hepatitis (and a slew of others) can all be avoided with a vaccine. Each requires a unique schedule of shots to ensure maximum protection – Typhoid is a one-shot deal at least two weeks before departure, but TBE requires 3 doses several months apart. Assess the area you'll be traveling to and make sure you're protected. Many travel vaccines are not covered by insurance, but skipping this step is about as brilliant as getting behind the wheel while inebriated.

Listen to Your Body

Whether it's altitude sickness or traveler's diarrhea, don't ignore your body's distress signals. Severe diarrhea can kick off dehydration, hospitalization and possibly death. Altitude sickness, which is not preventable with physical fitness, can lead to coma and even death if left unchecked. Not sure if tummy troubles stem from last night's dodgy meal or a true illness? If rushing to the hospital isn't your style, take a day off from travel activities until you're certain.

Practice Safe Snacking

More than half of all travelers report some form of diarrhea within a few days of leaving home. Latin America, Africa and South Asia are diarrhea hot spots, but some hygienic habits can reduce your hit.

• Wash your hands thoroughly before handling food.

• Avoid uncooked foods, such as salads, uncooked meat, fruit and vegetables (fruit and veggies you peel yourself are considered safe).

• If you're worried about water safety, boil water for brushing your teeth, washing food and drinking.

• Stick to reliable sources for food – street vendors may be a risky choice if you're particularly sensitive to unfamiliar bacteria.


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