If you're planning a trip overseas and don't have your doctor on your pre-travel checklist, you're not alone. A recent study found the majority of us do not receive pre-travel advice from a physician and are not prepared for our international trips.
"People just assume that there aren't risks or they aren't aware of what the risks are, perhaps it's not on the forefront of their mind. When you're ready to go on a trip you're thinking about what you're going to pack in your bag, you're thinking about getting the new bathing suit. You're thinking about taking your cellphone with you and not forgetting anything. You don't necessarily think about going to the doctor," explained Dr.Jonathan Leizman, who did not take part in the study but is an expert on travel medicine at Cleveland Clinic.
University of Washington researchers interviewed nearly 260 international travelers.
they found 56% of them did not receive pre-travel advice. The primary reasons included being unaware of the need or believing they already knew what to do. Leizman says pre-travel advice is helpful because no two trips are alike.
"If somebody is going to visit churches in Western Europe, that's very different than a student who might be staying in hostels traveling throughout China, Singapore, and Vietnam," Leizman said.
According to the study, adult males and those traveling less than 7 days were more likely to go on a trip without seeking pre-travel advice. Researchers say before most international trips you should have a talk with a travel medicine expert about risks and immunization recommendations. Leizman agrees.
"It involves a review of somebody's medical history. It involves a review of what medications they are on. I have individuals fill out a questionnaire that not only answers those questions, but it also takes time to look at what immunizations somebody has had in the past," he explained.
Helpful traveler's health links from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: