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The healthy traveler’s guide to adventure travel precautions

Adventure travel is a growing trend among those who like to explore the unknown, experience out-of-the-way places in other countries, and challenge themselves physically. A travel adventure may be a solo cross-border bicycle tour, a family hike in the mountains, a motorcycle tour with friends, or even camping in the jungle. Whatever the shape of your trip, it’s important to note that adventure travel carries with it some health and safety risks. Being prepared can help you travel safely and come home healthy.

Make sure you are fit for what you are planning to do

Dog-sledding in the tundra may sound like fun, but if you’ve been sedentary for awhile, it can be no fun at all. Fit in time before departure for any physical conditioning you might need to make your plans realistic.

Book only with reputable outfitters

Regulations governing businesses may not be as stringent in other countries. If you are planning on booking through an outfitter, do some online research and check reviews to make sure the company is reputable and has a good safety record.

Get a health exam and vaccinations

If you’re going on a trip that requires heavy physical exertion, it’s a good idea to book a pre-trip visit to your doctor. Planning your checkup at least six weeks before departure helps ensure you have enough time to fit in any necessary vaccinations, especially those that are administered in a series. If you have a chronic condition, such as asthma, talk to your doctor about any special precautions you should take.

Pack a first aid kit

Start by researching your destination – what kinds of first aid supplies will be available where you are going? Along with many other helpful tips, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends bringing a simple first aid kit including these items:

  • Bandages, gauze, an ace bandage, cotton-tipped applicators
  • Scissors, tweezers, and a digital thermometer
  • Antiseptic
  • Aloe gel for sunburn
  • Oral rehydration solution packets

Prepare for the burn and the bite

Outdoor exposure also exposes you to sunburn and insect bites. Be prepared with an adequate supply of sunscreen that has a high SPF and both UVA and UVB protection -- and plan to apply it often. For insect repellent, look for those containing at least 20% DEET or picardin* and reapply after swimming.

Buy travel medical and evacuation insurance

Chances are your domestic health plan won’t cover you overseas in the same way it does at home. And, depending on your destination and plans, access to medical care may be limited. A plan like SafeTrip Travel Protection from UnitedHealthcare Global includes medical evacuation if you can’t be treated where you are. Add-on coverage for extreme sports also is available if rock-climbing or other risky activities are part of your itinerary.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/avoid-bug-bites

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