International travel can be an exciting learning experience, but students must be prepared. Without proper measures, it may turn into an adventure that proves to be a bit more than expected. When out of the country, a student should:
- Carry a passport at all times.
- Get an international driver’s license. If trouble occurs, a U.S. license can be taken away.
- Bring a copy of immunization records.
- Keep all medications in original containers, including over the counter meds. Keep a separate list of medications or copy of original prescriptions. Carry all medications on board, in case of lost or stolen luggage.
- Make a list of the supplies needed for a chronic medical condition.
- Don’t drink the water. http://www.cdc.gov/travel/foodwater.htm.
- Don’t go buggy.
- Bring insect repellant containing DEET.
- Wear protective clothing.
- Mosquito netting.
- Avoid prolonged exposure outside between dusk and dawn.
- Depending on sleeping conditions, bring a hostel-style sleeping blanket.
- Always wear shoes or sandals, even on the beach, as parasites can penetrate skin. Wear comfortable shoes.
- Look before leaping. Swimming can be refreshing, but the marine life can give quite the sting. Lakes, rivers and streams that are slow moving also have threats. Parasites in these waters can penetrate unbroken skin, so dry off quickly to remove parasites before they have a chance to penetrate. Leaches also like these waters. Oceans and chlorinated swimming pools are generally free of parasites.
- Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.
- Keep well hydrated. Hydration should begin while on the plane and throughout the rest of the trip. Carry bottled water on all excursions. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, especially during the heat of the day.
- Remember all blood and body fluid exposures are potentially infectious. Whether working with patients or just having fun, be cautious and prepared.
- Bring a first aid kit. It may come in handy, especially in areas where supplies may be hard to find.