Incorporating a medical checklist into your travel routine is a must for snowbirds staying abroad for several months. Here, some tips on how to make your stay a healthy one.

1. Be informed

Make sure to know your province’s rules for health insurance and know the limitations of your health insurance and get full coverage for when you’re away.

2. Practise preventive medicine

Go to your doctor to discuss any health issues where you’re going and how to avoid them. Ask what adjustments need to be made to your medication schedule or dosage while away (due to travel, time change, diet differences), visit other health-care providers before you go, such as your pharmacist, your dentist and your optometrist.

3. Do your research

Learn about the resources at your destination and have a plan if you need medical assistance.

4. Take out the guess work

Make a list of your medications (including over-the-counter medications and vita-min supplements), doctors and medical issues to bring with you in case you need medical assistance; carry a medical alert bracelet or card to inform the medical staff of any medical conditions, allergies, emergency contacts or other important information in case you can’t.

5. Consider things you may need

Depending on your health history (analgesia, anti-nausea medication, allergy medication), make sure to have all health and hygiene essentials in your carry-on, such as painkillers, antacids and Band-Aids.

6. Always keep all your medications in your carry-on

Make sure that you have enough for the whole trip, as some medications are not available in different places.

7. Be wary

Make sure that your medications are not controlled substances elsewhere (such as opiate analgesics) and, if so, have a letter from your doctor stating that they are needed and prescribed.

8. Make it easier

For those with mobility issues, look into special services. Airports and airlines have caregivers who can act as escorts and transport people who have difficulty walking. Make arrangements for wheelchairs, guide dogs and special seating.

9. Stay fit

Any flight more than four hours increases your risk of blood clots, which can be a deadly problem. To reduce risk, discuss the pros and cons of baby Aspirin with your doctor before flying, stay hydrated during the flight and get up and walk during the flight.

10. It sounds like a no-brainer, but be safe while travelling

And that includes practising safe sex when abroad – use barrier contraception (condoms) to help decrease the spread of sexually transmitted infections.


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