Fun in the Sun: Healthy and Safe Summer Travel
Spending time overseas this summer? Follow these tips to reduce your risk of illness or injury abroad.
As temperatures rise, many people will make their way abroad to enjoy culture, food, and experiences from around the world. Wherever your summer travel takes you, CDC wants you to be informed and make smart choices. If international travel is part of your summer plans, the CDC Travelers' Health website is a great first stop to make sure that you are Proactive, Prepared, and Protected when it comes to your health while traveling.
Summer travel brings to mind breezy beaches, exotic rain forests, and coastal cruises. But many popular summer destinations throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, South America, and Pacific Islands have outbreaks of Zika virus. Check CDC's Zika travel notices for recommendations for travelers to these destinations.
Because Zika virus is primarily spread by mosquitoes, CDC recommends that travelers to any destination with Zika protect themselves from mosquito bites. Zika can also be spread by sex from a man to his partners, so travelers should use condoms if they have sex (vaginal, anal or oral).
Because Zika virus infection in a pregnant woman can cause serious birth defects, pregnant women should not travel to an area with Zika. Pregnant women with male partners who live in or travel to an area with Zika should either use condoms or not have sex for the duration of their pregnancy. Couples who are trying to become pregnant should talk to their doctor about their plans and see CDC guidance for how long you should wait to get pregnant after travel to an area with Zika.
Even if you don't feel sick, you should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks after returning to the US from an area with Zika. Mosquitoes that bite you while you're infected can spread the virus to other people.
Before You Go
- Download CDC's free TravWell mobile app, which allows you to get destination-specific health recommendations, a preparation checklist, and a customizable healthy travel packing list.
- Find out about vaccines for and any health concerns at your destination. Visit your local health department or a travel medicine specialist at least 4 to 6 weeks before you leave the United States.
- Couples who are trying to become pregnant should talk to their doctor about their travel plans and see CDC guidance for how long you should wait to get pregnant after travel to an area with Zika.
- Pack smart and prepare a travel health kit with the items you may need on your trip including medicines, sunscreen, insect repellent, and condoms.
- Make extra copies of your passport and other travel documents that you can leave with a family member or friend.
- Check with your health insurance provider to find out about medical coverage outside the United States. Consider additional insurance that covers medical care and emergency evacuation, especially if you will participate in extreme sports or travel to remote areas.
- Check the US Department of State website for information on security risks. Register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so the US embassy or consulate can contact you in an emergency.
During Your Trip
- Prevent bug bites! Bugs (including mosquitoes, ticks, and some flies) can spread diseases like Zika, dengue, chikungunya, malaria, and Lyme disease.
- Make smart choices while enjoying the local cuisine. In developing countries, eat only food that has been fully cooked and served hot. Do not eat fresh vegetables or fruits unless you can peel them yourself. Drink only bottled, sealed beverages, and steer clear of ice—it was probably made with tap water. Get on-the-spot food and water advice in CDC's Can I Eat This? app to avoid spending your vacation in the bathroom!
Don't leave your healthy habits at home this summer! Play it safe when it comes to your health.
- Don't leave your healthy habits at home – "what happens on vacation stays on vacation" may imply that taking risks is expected, but you should always play it safe when it comes to your health!
- Use latex condoms every time you have sex (including vaginal, anal and oral sex). This can help protect against Zika and other sexually transmitted diseases.
- Avoid getting tattoos or piercings to prevent infections such as HIV and hepatitis B.
- Drink responsibly and be sure to have a designated driver.
- Use reliable and properly trained outfitters for adventure travel activities.
- Don't be another statistic: Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among healthy travelers. Remember the basics of safe driving: wear seatbelts, maintain the speed limit, and avoid distractions like talking on the phone or texting.
After You Return
If you are not feeling well, see a doctor and mention that you have recently traveled. It is important to "think travel" whenever you don't feel right after returning from a trip.
If you've traveled to an area with Zika, you can help protect your community after your trip. Even if you don't feel sick, you might have Zika. Mosquitoes that bite you while you're infected can spread the virus to other people. Prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks after travel.
Men should also consider using condoms after travel to areas with Zika—for at least 8 weeks if they don't have symptoms and at least 6 months if they have Zika symptoms or are diagnosed with Zika. Men with pregnant partners should either use condoms or the couple should not have sex during the pregnancy.
To learn more about the recommendations for your specific travel destination, visit the Destinations website.
- Page last reviewed: June 20, 2016
- Page last updated: June 20, 2016
- Content source:
- National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Division of Global Migration and Quarantine
- Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs