It’s the last official holiday weekend of the summer. From packing prescriptions to knowing where to access care away from home, it’s essential to take steps that will help ensure you have a vacation that maximizes both good times and good health.
With these win-win goals in mind, take a moment to review this healthy travel checklist before heading off for a Labor Day weekend getaway or your next longer vacation.
Before You Go
Medications—At least three weeks prior to leaving, determine if any prescriptions need to be refilled. Be sure to bring enough prescription medications, as well as any over-the-counter products used, to last your entire trip. When traveling by plane, prescription medications should be packed in carry-on versus checked luggage.
Proactive Prescription—If visiting an area where diarrheal illnesses are common – Mexico, for example – ask your health-care provider if it’s advisable to get a prescription (which you would fill prior to leaving) for antibiotics.
Immunizations—If traveling abroad, particularly to an underdeveloped country, be sure that you’re adequately immunized (and do so four to six weeks before departing) against any infectious diseases that you might encounter. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/vaccinations.htm—and then check with your health-care provider.
Benefit Coverage—Before traveling, review your Certificate of Insurance to become familiar with your benefit coverage.
Scout Providers—It’s wise to determine – in advance of leaving – if there’s an urgent-care center, emergency room, and pharmacy near your vacation destination that will be covered by your insurance.
Download App—Many health plans offer apps that can be downloaded for free on smart phones and other web-enabled devices. By using such apps, members can look up health-plan details, access their ID cards, and locate providers – all of which can come in handy when away from home.
As You’re Packing
ID Card—Don’t forget to bring your health coverage/membership ID card.
First-Aid Kit—It’s always wise to pack a first-aid kit containing sterile bandages, antibiotic ointment, and an elastic bandage in case of sprains.
Health Profile—In the event that medical care is needed while vacationing, it’s smart to take a personal health-record summary with you that lists: name; age; birthday; allergies; last tetanus shot; primary doctor/phone number; and medical group name/phone number.
Emergency Contacts—Along with a health profile, it’s also advised that you bring the names and phone numbers of at least two emergency contacts.
Claim Forms—Just in case medical care is received, it’s a good idea to tuck a few insurance-claim forms in your suitcase. Contact your insurer to see if they offer a “travel kit” that includes claim forms or provide a link through which forms can be downloaded.
Consent-to-Treat Form—If you have children who are staying home, leave a signed consent-to-treat from with their caretaker.
While You’re There
Urgent vs. Emergency—When you’re away from home, it’s especially important to distinguish between an urgent and an emergency condition. Examples of urgent conditions include: severely sprained or broken bones; high fever; and acute abdominal pain/nausea. Examples of emergency conditions include: shortness of breath; excessive bleeding; severe organ or bodily pain; and early/active labor.
Local Emergency Number—Upon arriving at your destination – whether it’s in America or abroad – find out what number to call in case of emergency. While the vast majority of locations in the United States have implemented 911, it’s still advisable to double-check.