Business Travelers: Your Best Advice for Safe Travel Abroad

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International corporate travel can be risky business. An employee who gets sick while traveling or who misses days of work upon return can mean a loss of productivity and a cost to your business.

“With proper preventative care and education, including vaccines and adhering to food and water safety guidelines, most travel-related illnesses and injuries are easily avoidable,” says Keith Armitage, MD, Medical Director of University Hospitals' Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine.

Here are Dr. Armitage's recommendations to help keep your employees healthy before, during after traveling abroad.

Before Travel

  • Always seek pre-travel advice from a travel medicine specialist. A travel medicine specialist can provide a thorough itinerary review and counseling on vaccines and prescriptions, as well as food, water and insect precautions.
  • Receive all required vaccines at a minimum of four to six weeks before the travel departure date. If you need malaria medications, take the first one or two doses before leaving home so if an adverse reaction occurs, your doctor can prescribe an alternative regimen.
  • Remember to pack your medications (over-the-counter and prescription), register with the U.S. Embassy in the country you are traveling to, and take a digital photo of your passport in case it gets lost or stolen.
  • Consider purchasing trip insurance should you need to cancel or shorten a trip. Enrolling in a medical evacuation plan ensures coverage should you need medical transport. Consult with your organization’s travel manager or office to learn if these options are available.

During Travel

  • During the flight, it helps to get up and move around to prevent blood clots. To minimize jet lag, avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Remember to take your daily medications, including prescribed anti-malarials.
  • Mosquitos are known carriers for several diseases that vaccines cannot prevent. Use insect repellent with DEET, a brand of diethyltoluamide, to protect against mosquito bites during travel.
  • Only drink bottled beverages with unbroken seals. Do not brush your teeth with tap water. Remember that ice cubes are a potential source of contamination. Beer, wine, soda, hot tea and coffee are all safe.
  • Avoid raw or uncooked foods, including salads. Do not eat street vendor foods and unpasteurized dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt) and choose fruits with thick skins that you can peel yourself. No matter how luxurious the hotel or conference center, it is important to take similar precautions.
  • Follow common sense safety precautions, including sun protection, staying hydrated, frequent hand washing and wearing seatbelts. Avoid riding motorcycles and traveling in overcrowded public vehicles.

Returning Home

Most travelers return healthy from overseas trips, but a few will have persistent diarrhea, fever, or in some other way feel unwell. Diagnosis and treatment of potential exotic and severe illnesses requires some expertise. Consult with a travel medicine expert, if you have medical concerns or questions.

Taking care of the health and well-being of your employees before, during and after travel is not only an investment in your employee but an investment in your company.

Related Links

The experts at Roe Green Travel Center can advise you on travel hazards you may not know about. Watch the video.

More online traveler resources and services from University Hospitals.

Learn more about the Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine's Corporate Travel Services.

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