SEATTLE — Taking an international trip? Don’t let travel plans get ruined by lack of preparation, a stomachache or other illnesses.
August is the busiest time for air travel, and traffic at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is approaching pre-pandemic levels.
While the number of international passengers in June this year is still 18% down from pre-pandemic levels, it is up 244% from June 2021, according to Sea-Tac spokesperson Perry Cooper. On average, there are 55 international flights leaving Sea-Tac each day in August, an increase from 22 in 2021 and 11 in 2020, he said.
As more people are scheduling trips to countries that were off-limits due to the pandemic, demand at travel clinics have recently increased, said Sofiya Volynsky, a regional pharmacy leader with Bartell Drugs.
“It’s definitely picked up in the last four months,” she said. “People are starting to travel this summer.”
If it’s been a while since your last trip outside the U.S., here are some tips to medically prepare for a trip overseas.
Book an appointment with a travel clinic
Most local hospitals like Polyclinic, Harborview Medical Center and even pharmacies like Bartell Drugs have travel clinics where you can book an appointment in advance of your trip.
Health providers there can look up the health recommendations at your destination. Traveling to Western Europe may not require special medicine, but common prescriptions for travel in tropical areas or developing nations may address travelers’ diarrhea and malaria, Volynsky said.
Volynsky advised booking an appointment at least a month in advance. Some vaccines require a booster 28 days after the initial injection, she said.
Prepare for minor hiccups
Carry over-the-counter medicine you are familiar with, Volynsky advises. You may know exactly what you need when you get sick, but it won’t be much help if you don’t recognize the brands and labels if you’re in a foreign country.
If you already have prescription medicine, make sure you have enough refills for the whole trip, she said.
Prepare for an unexpected medical emergency
If you have health insurance, the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs advises checking what services could be covered overseas and carrying your health insurance policy card and a claim form.
Take a list of local hospitals and health care providers you could visit in case you get injured or become sick. You may also want the address and phone numbers for any U.S. embassies and consulates.
If you have a preexisting health condition, you may want to carry a letter from a health care provider describing your medical condition and any prescription medicines you may need.
What about the coronavirus?
The best thing you can do is get vaccinated and carry your vaccine card in case it is requested by your destination or airline, Volynsky said. Just like in the U.S., restaurants may request to see proof of vaccination in certain countries, she said.
Stick to commonsense measures like washing your hands and masking in crowded places, she said.
Do your research before booking flights. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps a searchable list of international travel advice and restrictions by country.