How you can plan your travel to prevent health problems

Travel related health problems arise from a variety of factors related to your travel environment e.g. holiday destination, types of activities, food and water quality.

Travel related health problems can also arise when a pre-existing medical condition worsens during travel.

Fortunately most travel related problems can be prevented with careful advanced planning. Consult your doctor or travel medicine clinic so that a travel plan can be discussed in detail.

Consider the destination and how the following might affect your underlying health condition.

Countries/Regions visitedAir qualityWater and food qualityPlanned activities are consistent with usual levels
Type of accommodation and facilities availableAltitudeAccessing health care

Any differences in electrical outlets and voltage
Season of travel: hot/cold/humidity
Check for any epidemicsFlexible ticketsCheck in early

Arrive before darkness

  • Take medical documents (e.g. letters, scripts) with you/have your GP liaise ahead with major health centres. Map out phone numbers of medical services.
  • Have travel insurance or access to health care.
  • Some travel insurance providers have a telephone helplines to assist you in finding appropriate health care while you are travelling.
  • Insurance can be difficult for those with chronic disease. Some countries have reciprocal health care with Australia. Refer to:
  • Take a plentiful supply of medicine and health equipment eg: relievers, puffers, oxygen tubing, masks, electrical adaptors, batteries.
  • Dryness of air.
  • Reduced mobility and potential DVT (blood clots) – those with chronic disease such as COPD would be advised to wear compression sockwear for long flights.
  • Proximity to others and risk of infections.
  • Long periods of travel disturb 24hr clock – sleep, eating, taking medicines.
  • Stress of navigating busy airports, unknown roads.
  • Try to avoid places that cannot provide smoke free restaurants and accommodation.
  • If you need portable oxygen, check that your accommodation provider will allow oxygen cylinders to be delivered and stored on their premises.
  • Check access to the room. Do you need to climb flights of stairs to get there, or is there a lift?