Planning a gap year overseas? Here’s how to stay safe and healthy:

6th June 2018

Many young people in the western suburbs choose to take a gap year to travel at some stage during their university life.


This unique experience represents an opportunity for adventure and discovery, and achieving a broader life perspective prior to embarking on a specific study or career path.


But travelling abroad during a gap year also comes with some significant risks, and it’s useful to consider the different health risks that may await when planning your trip.


Travel insurance is a vital first step in minimising risk and ensuring help can be accessed if something does go wrong while away.


Any overseas destination may host a variety of infectious diseases that are not present in Australia. So it’s useful to touch base with a travel doctor at least 6 to 8 weeks prior to departure.


This may involve ensuring routine childhood immunisations are completed and establishing whether any mandatory vaccines are required, such as Yellow Fever.


Additional vaccines or medication may be recommended, dependent on your specific health circumstances, as well as the destination, length and type of trip you are planning.


Take a first aid kit with you. This can include medications, such as to treat a gastro illness, to prevent altitude sickness and to minimise risk of malaria. Your doctor will talk to you about whether these are worthwhile for your specific trip.


It’s important for travellers to appreciate that sexually transmitted infections such as HIV are far more prevalent in many overseas destinations and its essential to practice safe sex by using condoms and ensure that if you become sexually intimate with someone, you are in a safe environment.


Have a safe and functional method for accessing funds while travelling – it’s worthwhile talking to your local bank about different options available and also consider the safest way of carrying money around day-to-day while away.


And finally, plan how you will communicate with your family while away – regular contact with home is another important way of staying safe. Need to contact your regular GP while away? Talk to GPs on Bayview about our video consultation service available to clinic members.


This article was written by Dr Tom Mildenhall published in the Western Suburbs Weekly

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