Travel abroad can be very exciting, but it does take some planning. See a travel medicine specialist as soon as you can to get the required vaccines and discuss your trip, at least 4-6 weeks before departure. Scott Henderson, MD, MU Student Health Center Medical Services Director, has three tips for students to think about when they prepare for international travel.

Pack Smart

A doctor and patient talkingReview medication guidelines for traveling with medications such as Adderall, and check with the embassy of your host country to make sure you can bring those medications with you. “Ask your embassy if you need to bring additional documents, like the original prescription or a letter from your physician,” says Henderson. This is also a good time to talk with your physician about any prescriptions that might be expiring soon, including birth control, so you can have those medications or prescriptions with you during your trip.

Know your itinerary

Review the proposed travel itinerary and activities to make sure you will be able to meet the physical demands, like walking long distances, hiking, etc. If you have concerns, talk with the professor or trip organizer about what accommodations can be made. If you have food allergies or special dietary requirements, discuss those ahead of time, as well. “Especially if there is a language barrier, it’s a good idea to learn the names of foods you are trying to avoid,” Henderson says.”But, also make sure the trip organizer knows your allergies or food requirements and where you keep your epinephrine injection in case you need it.”

Your mental health is important, too. 

Travel can spark mood changes, depression, anxiety, and uncharacteristic behaviors like violence or suicidal thoughts, and excessive drug or alcohol use. “Especially for people with existing mental illness, the stresses of travel can sometimes worsen symptoms,” Henderson says. “It’s a good idea to think about possible stresses before your trip, and some of the thoughts and feelings you might have before, during or after your trip.” Your medical or behavioral health provider can help you strategize ways to cope with stress. MU Student Health Center providers offer travel visits to discuss necessary immunizations and all of the above. Schedule an appointment today by calling 573-882-7481.