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Top 13 Travel Health Advice Tips for Last-Minute Travelers

Updated: Jun 8

Are you one of those spontaneous people who decide to book an international trip just a week or two before your departure date? While last-minute travel can be exhilarating, it also leaves little time to properly prepare from a health perspective.

Fear not, last-minute travelers! This guide covers the top 13 essential travel health tips you need before jetting off on your adventure.


1st Tip: Get Relevant Immunizations ASAP–Especially for International Travel


When it comes to vaccines for last-minute travel, it's crucial to get whatever immunizations are possible in the short timeframe you have. While experts typically recommend receiving travel vaccines 10 days prior for full efficacy, many still start building protection almost immediately.


For example, even just the first dose of the hepatitis A can provide substantial immunity for last-minute travelers headed to regions with high-risk endemic diseases.


2nd Tip: Consider Getting Meds for Protection against Malaria


Malaria is a serious, potentially life-threatening infectious disease. Last-minute travelers to high-risk malaria regions absolutely must take preventative measures.


Your doctor may prescribe antimalarial drugs like Malarone or doxycycline to take before, during your trip, and for the recommended period of time after returning home (7-28 days) from endemic areas like sub-Saharan Africa or Southeast Asia.


3rd Tip: Stock Up on Insect Protection for Infectious and Deadly Bites


In addition to antimalarials, packing insect repellents, permethrin-treated clothing, and a mosquito net is highly advisable for last-minute travelers to prevent mosquito bites carrying malaria or other infectious diseases like Zika, dengue, or chikungunya.


Look for EPA-registered repellents containing active ingredients like DEET, picaridin, or IR3535.


4th Tip: Check Covid-19 Entry Rules


While most countries have lifted Covid-19 travel restrictions, last-minute travelers should still verify their destination's current entry requirements well in advance.


Some places may still mandate:

  • Proof of vaccination

  • Negative Covid test

  • Travel visa restrictions

  • Local mask mandates


5th Tip: Bring High-Quality Masks


Even if not required, packing a supply of high-quality masks like N95 or KN95 respirators is smart for last-minute travelers spending time in crowded indoor settings, airports, and airplanes where Covid transmission or other airborne disease risk is higher.


6th Tip: Pack Portable Water Purification


Up to 60% of travelers experience traveler's diarrhea from contaminated food and water, which can quickly derail a last-minute adventure. As a preventative measure, last-minute travelers should pack portable water purification methods for their trip, such as:

  • Water filtration bottles or straws with microfilters

  • Chemical disinfectants like iodine tablets or chlorine dioxide drops

  • UV light water purification wands


In addition, be sure to also follow food/water safety precautions once you arrive at your destination:

  • Only consume bottled, boiled, or properly treated water

  • Eat freshly cooked foods while avoiding uncooked produce

  • Frequently wash hands with soap and water


7th Tip: Carry Meds for Diarrhea


Despite precautions, if you do get traveler's diarrhea as a last-minute traveler, having medications on hand is essential. Pack:

  • Anti-diarrheal drugs like loperamide (Imodium)

  • Oral rehydration solutions to replenish fluids


8th Tip: A Last-Minute Traveler Should Double-Check Their Travel Documents


For last-minute travelers, double-checking that you have all the proper travel documents and identification in order is crucial before departing. Make sure you have:

  • A valid passport with at least 6 months remaining before expiration

  • Necessary travel visas for your destinations

  • Printed copies of your itinerary/reservations

  • Required entry documents like proof of vaccination or negative Covid test results

  • Adequate travel medical insurance documents and policy details

  • Copies of your driver's license and birth certificate


9th Tip: Visit a Travel Clinic for Travel Consultations and Vaccinations


Getting personalized medical advice and any missing vaccinations by visiting a travel health clinic, like Away Clinic, before departure is extremely valuable for last-minute travelers with little preparation time.


10th Tip: Check CDC Destination Guidance


The CDC's website at cdc.gov/travel is an excellent resource for last-minute travelers to review. It provides up-to-date info on outbreak notices, required immunizations, travel advisories, and more for your specific destinations.


11th Tip: Pack a Travel Health Kit


One of the most essential items for last-minute travelers is a well-stocked travel health kit. Don't just throw a few items in a bag; take the time to pack a complete kit tailored to your destination and personal needs. Your travel health kit should contain:


First-Aid Supplies:

  • Adhesive bandages

  • Gauze pads/rolls

  • Antiseptic wipes

  • Scissors/tweezers

  • Digital thermometer


Medications:

  • All prescription drugs in original containers with dosage instructions

  • Over-the-counter meds like anti-diarrheals, pain/fever relievers, antacids, etc.

  • Antihistamines for allergic reactions


Sun Protection:

  • SPF 30+ sunscreen

  • Lip balm with SPF

  • Sunglasses


Hygiene Items:

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Moist wipes/toilet paper

  • Feminine products


12th Tip: Secure Travel Medical Insurance


An unexpected illness or injury while traveling internationally can potentially bankrupt you without adequate insurance coverage.


As a last-minute traveler, secure a comprehensive travel medical insurance policy that covers emergency services, medical evacuation transportation, and more.


13th Tip: Download the Right Travel Apps


In today's digital age, last-minute travelers have a wealth of incredibly useful apps at their fingertips to assist with navigating top-rated restaurants, and even health and safety abroad. Be sure to download some essential apps before your spontaneous trip.


While spontaneous international travel is thrilling, taking simple health precautions can prevent your last-minute adventure from turning into a medical nightmare. With basic vaccinations, preventative medications, the right supplies, and guidance from reliable travel health clinics, even last-minute travelers can confidently embark on amazing journeys abroad.



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