International Travel - Tips for a Healthier Trip

Posted on January 19, 2024

International travel is an opportunity to experience the sites, cuisines and culture of unique locations across the globe. Whether you stay on a well-trodden path or take roads less travelled, planning for fun and adventure abroad should go hand in hand with safety. Experienced international travelers have a few tricks for staying safe and healthy while abroad that might help you on your next trip to wherever your spirit of adventure takes you next.

Contagious Illness Abroad

The worst part of traveling to international locales is, possibly, the travel itself. Long trips through crowded airports can be stressful and expose you to contagious illnesses. From germ covered surfaces on planes, called fomites, to coughs and sneezes-, hours on your flight can be more than uncomfortable—they can make you sick. Seasoned travelers know and medical studies show there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of contracting a cold, flu or other potentially trip-ruining illness.

Keep Hydrated

Keeping well-hydrated allows your body’s defenses to work at their best. Water is the obvious drink of choice, but don’t stop there. Mucous membranes in your eyes and nose need moisture to work well and dehumidified airplane air causes them to dry out. Invest in moisturizing nasal sprays and eyedrops when you travel.

Seat Selection

An aisle seat might make it easier to stand up and use the restroom, but it can expose you to more germs. Generally, airplane air is cleaned well by the air filtration system, but people passing by create opportunities for passing germs to aisle sitters. Studies show that your exposure to germs is greatly reduced by selecting a window seat. Wiping down your seat area with a sanitizing wipe also helps create a more sanitary area to spend your onboard hours.


Travelling abroad means exposure to germs your body may not be familiar with. Being updated on your vaccines or getting vaccinated against diseases that are endemic to areas you are visiting is a great was to stay healthier when you travel. You can review recommended vaccinations for your travel destination on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.

Injury and Illness Abroad

Arriving at your destination can mean traveling seated for many hours. Feeling uncomfortable is one concern, but the inability to move as one normally does can also set you up for injury and illness.

Blood Clots

Lack of movement can increase the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots in the legs. One of the simplest ways to not only prevent blood clots on long-haul flights and reduce uncomfortable leg and foot swelling, is to wear compression socks. When it is safe to do so, standing is also recommended as well as a short trip up and down the aisles. If you are on blood thinners, be sure to maintain your usual, doctor-recommended regimen while you travel.

Stiffness and Injury

It might seem like common knowledge that stiffness would set in after a long trip, but you might not think that this can precipitate strains, sprains and falls. Take opportunities to regularly stretch back, leg, neck and arm muscles during the flight. When you are ready to disembark, use caution with lifting and twisting when taking luggage from overhead compartments or luggage carrousels.


International travel might mean a lot of walking. Be sure you have the correct footwear for your travel activities. If purchasing new shoes prior to a trip, be sure to break them in before putting them to use abroad. If you have orthopedic issues, be sure that you have all inserts or braces you need to prevent exacerbating injuries on your trip.

Wherever you plan on visiting this year, remember preparation is prevention! Savvy travelers implement these recommendations when traveling but know that even the best laid plans may not be enough to avoid every accident or illness. They choose to prepare for international travel with an AirMed International membership. For over 20 years, our expertly trained medical teams have assisted with medevacs from locations around the globe, repatriating travelers back to the US or Canada who have become seriously sick or injured abroad – to recover at a hospital closer to home. With memberships that cover the entire family when traveling, you can prepare for the unexpected by choosing this affordable membership. Get home to your own doctor with no out-of-pocket costs for air medical treatment and transport from almost anywhere; be prepared with an AirMed International membership. Learn More.