Before You Go
“Life is a long travel. The end of the journey is often unpredictable.”
Health and Medical Insurance
We purchased Medical Insurance and Evacuation Insurance through World Nomad Travel Insurance before we turned 60 years. We were fortunate not to have to make any claims.
We recommend for extended travel that you purchase individual medical insurance even if traveling as a couple. If for any reason you are separated or one has to fly home for an emergency or such your insurance may become invalid for the person left behind. Check with your medical travel insurance.
Medical insurance can actually be quite tricky. Buying Canadian medical insurance for travel you generally need to have a provincial medical insurance number. This is not an issue if you don’t plan to do a very long trip but if you are planning a year long trip it can be difficult. Most insurance max out at 180 days.
We use RBC travel insurance now and have had excellent service from them.
All medical and dental check ups should be completed at least 6 months before leaving. These should be done before starting your course of immunizations.
We always carry copies of prescriptions for medication and glasses, and take spare sun and reading glasses.
Depending on your route but if traveling through areas or countries with limited or no medical facilities it is recommended you carry a comprehensive first aid and medical kit. Knowledge of tropical diseases and first aid is very helpful. Suggest you take along a good reference first aid and tropical diseases book.
Finding a Travel Health Care Provider
- They will be able to tell you about the health concerns of the countries you plan to visit.
- Give you the necessary immunizations and medical travel documents.
Prescribe medications you will or may need on your trip.
- Advise you of any existing health concern that could affect your trip
- When traveling, you may be at risk for a number of illnesses that can be prevented by immunization.
- Visit a travel clinic at least 6 weeks before departure to ensure sufficient time to receive all required immunizations.
- Your pre-travel health assessment provides an opportunity to review your immunization history and assess your needs based on where you plan to travel, what you plan to do and your own individual health concerns. Additional shots may be recommended depending on your age, anticipated travel activities and local conditions. Remember that prevention of infection through immunization is a lifelong process.
The following immunization may be required prior to travel:
- Tetanus diphtheria pertussis (whooping cough)
- Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) female travelers
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Meningococcal disease
- Zoster chicken pox
- Pneumococcal disease
Recommended Immunizations, we also received the following
Required immunizations, mandatory for travel in Sub Sahara Africa and tropical South America
- Yellow fever
On the Road
Choose safe food and water. It is an unpleasant fact but 30%-70% of travellers will have travellers’ diarrhoea from contaminated food or water, depending of course where you travel. Know the rules; wash it, peel it, cook it. Don’t drink tap water, or any drinks with ice or shaken with ice.
Know your enemy – Mosquitoes.
These irritating critters spread dengue fever, yellow fever, Japanese Encephalitis and malaria.
Our biggest health risk in Africa was getting malaria. We have both had malaria so know the importance of taking malaria prophylaxis. We also carry a good supply of DEET.
Malaria is a common and serious infection in many tropical and subtropical countries, and it can be fatal. At this time, an anti-malarial vaccine that provides effective protection for travelers is not available. Therefore, when traveling to an area where malaria occurs, you need to follow two measures to reduce your risk of infection:
(1) Protect yourself against mosquito bites and
(2) Take anti-malarial medication.
Anti-malarial medication decreases your risk but doesn’t provide 100 percent protection against the disease. The medication must be taken before, during and after travel. As with all drugs, this medication can have side effects and contraindications (conditions for which its use is inadvisable). Through an individual health assessment, your health care provider can give you a prescription for the appropriate anti-malarial medication for your needs.
Spray your tent well with permethrin; it is really effective in keeping mosquitoes out of your tent.
MEDICAL AID KIT
There are the questions what should one take in a medical aid kit. There are several organizations that sell expedition medical aid kits. What you decide to take depends on where you are going, how remote you will be and your ability to access medical care and the expertise of the team members.
- Make sure you have the expiry dates on the bottle of medication especially if you will be traveling over a long period of time.
- Use childproof caps on all your bottles. There is nothing more frustrating to open your luggage and find all the pills scattered out of a bottle that opened.
- Write on the medication bottle what the medication is for, examples: antibiotic, malaria treatment, pain management.
- If starting a new medication take a few before you leave to ensure you do not have a bad reaction or allergy to the medication.
- Be wary of purchasing medications from unknown sources.