Staying Healthy Outside the United States

Practical Tips for International Travelers

Valid passport, power adapters, itinerary, cell phone coverage—whether for business or pleasure, planning for an international trip involves many intricate details. But how often do we stop and think about how to stay healthy once we reach our final destination?

Michael Peters, MD, board-certified Emergency Medicine physician at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, has received specialized training and certification in travel medicine. After treating patients in the hospital’s International Travel Program for several years, he has seen a broad range of travel-related illness and knows what can lie in the different climates and environments throughout the world.

Dr. Peters offers the following tips for international travelers:

  • Medication: If you take any regular medications, be sure to take them with you in their original bottles. Pack your medication in your carry-on bag and keep a list of prescription names and doses in case of loss. Also be sure to include medicine you may need for acute illness, such as asthma or an allergy.

  • Medical Records: If you are elderly or have a persistent medical problem, bring a copy of your medical records or any recent tests in case of an emergency.

  • Insurance: Confirm that your insurance will work outside of the United States before you leave. If not, you should consider trip insurance, depending upon your medical needs. This may also include evacuation insurance (to cover emergency medical transportation) if you have a chronic condition.

  • Food and Drink: Be very cautious about what you consume. Do not eat any food that is not cooked or peeled and avoid water that is not bottled, including ice or anything else that is added to drinks.

  • Insects: Be wary of airborne illnesses, including encephalitis, dengue fever and malaria. These are common, life-threatening illnesses that can be contracted by insects. In some countries, mosquitoes bite both day and night, so wear insect repellent at all times and reapply as necessary.


International Travel Program

Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital’s Occupational Health Department developed the International Travel Program to prepare US residents for travel and assist international patients. Services are tailored to meet your individual needs, depending on your destination, level of preparation and health.

“Our service is unique from other travel clinics because we offer a wide range of personalized services that are unmatched in Lake County,” said Dr. Peters. “Whether traveling for business of pleasure, we can administer any necessary immunizations, offer compliance and educational materials, or provide counseling on region-specific dangers. There is always someone within the hospital that is prepared to meet any level of need.”

The clinic is run by specially trained nurses and overseen by Steve Edelstein, MD, FACEP, the hospital’s medical director of Occupational Medicine. To learn more, visit the International Travel Program page or call us at 847.535.6172.

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