Spending time overseas this summer? Follow these tips to reduce your risk of getting sick or hurt abroad.
School is out, work in the office is quieting down, and cold temperatures are a distant memory. It’s time to relax and enjoy the warm, sunny weather. If international travel is part of your summer plans, the CDC Travelers’ Health website is a great first stop to get prepared.
Before You Go
- Visit your doctor or a travel medicine specialist, ideally 4–6 weeks before your trip, to get any vaccines or medicines you may need. Go to the Destinations website to check the vaccines and medicines list specific to your destination. Even if you are leaving soon, a visit to a travel medicine doctor is valuable. The doctor can counsel you on ways you can reduce your risk of getting sick or hurt while traveling.
- Pack a Travel Health Kit. Include prescription and over-the-counter medicines, sunscreen, alcohol-based sanitizer, first aid supplies, health insurance card, insect repellent, and condoms.
- Check for any current Travel Health Notices. These notices will inform you about health issues related to disease outbreaks, special events or gatherings, natural disasters, or other conditions at your destination.
- 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.
Protect Yourself from Zika Before, During, and After Travel
Many popular summer vacation destinations still have a risk of Zika. Prepare for your trip so that you’ll be protected.
Because Zika is primarily spread by mosquitoes, CDC recommends that travelers to any area with risk of Zika protect themselves from mosquito bites.
Sexual transmission of Zika is also possible, so you should use condoms every time you have sex or not have sex during your trip.
CDC recommends that pregnant women not travel to areas with risk of Zika. A pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor before and after they travel and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and sexual transmission during the trip. Learn more about Zika and Pregnancy.
During Your Trip
- Eat and drink safely. Contaminated food or drinks can cause travelers’ diarrhea and other diseases. Reduce your risk by eating only food that is cooked and served hot. Drink water, sodas, or sports drinks that are bottled and sealed or very hot coffee or tea. Get on-the-spot food and water advice in CDC’s Can I Eat This? App.
- Protect yourself from the sun. Wear SPF 15 or higher sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays when enjoying outdoor activities, such as spending time on the beach or swimming in a pool.
- Prevent insect bites. On exposed skin, use an EPA-registered insect repellent with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone. Apply sunscreen first, then repellent. Be sure to follow instructions on the label and reapply as directed. Using insect repellent can protect you from diseases spread by mosquitoes, such as Zika, dengue, and malaria.
- Practice road safety. Always wear a seat belt, ride only in marked taxis, be alert when crossing the street, especially in countries where people drive on the left, and avoid overcrowded, overweight, or top-heavy buses or vans.
After You Return
If you are not feeling well after your trip, you may need to see a doctor. If you need help finding a travel medicine specialist, find a clinic here. Be sure to tell your doctor about your travel, including where you went and what you did on your trip.
If you traveled to an area with risk of Zika, you can be infected (even without symptoms). Prevent the spread of the virus to your partner or your community:
- Take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks after your trip, even if you don’t feel sick.
- If you have a pregnant partner, you should either use condoms or not have sex during the pregnancy.
- If you are thinking about pregnancy, talk with your doctor and see CDC’s suggested timeframes for how long to wait to become pregnant.
- You also should consider using condoms after travel (for 8 weeks for women travelers and 6 months for male travelers) to protect your sex partners from Zika even if your partner is not pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
For more information on what to do if you are sick after your trip, see Getting Sick after Travel.
- Page last reviewed: July 5, 2017
- Page last updated: July 5, 2017
- 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