International Travel Orientations: Graduate and Professional Students
Ways to Protect Your Health While Abroad
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Impact of travel abroad on your health
Changes in environment, climate, food, and water, as well as increased stress, can have a significant impact on your health.
Even common conditions like diabetes, food allergies, depression, and asthma can be more challenging to manage when you are overseas. Talk with your primary care physician about any pre-existing medical conditions and develop a healthcare plan. Discuss whether any special accommodations may be needed while you are traveling. If you are taking any prescription medications, consider how traveling across time zones might affect your schedule.
The stresses of overseas travel can leave students vulnerable to loneliness, depression, or anxiety. Know that it is very common for students to receive treatment for mental health issues during college and study abroad. Know how to access health services while you are traveling, whether for non-emergency routine care or emergency needs.
It is important to get sleep, exercise regularly, stay hydrated and maintain a healthy diet.
Consider disclosing voluntarily
Create a support network: disclose mental or physical health conditions to your group leader or advisor before you leave
Mental health emergencies
If you or someone else is having suicidal thoughts, tell someone who can help right away:
- Call your doctor’s office
- Call the local emergency services
- Go to the nearest hospital emergency room
- Tell your faculty or program director, or someone else leading the trip
- Don’t leave a suicidal person alone, even for a second
When and what to disclose
With your parents/guardian and physician, assess any physical or mental health conditions that may be affected by travel abroad.
- Then consider self‐disclosing existing health issues to your group leader, the study abroad program, or your university abroad to help them be better prepared to assist you should the need arise
If you will require continued therapy, monitoring, or specific support mechanisms, self‐disclose the issues to the program leader well in advance so reasonable accommodations can be arranged.
- Contact Student Accessibility Services for help arranging accommodations
Tips for taking medications
Research if your medications are legal in your destination (e.g., Sudafed is not legal in Japan).
- Consult the embassy in your destination
- Discuss medications during your travel health consultation
Generally, you want to bring all the medications that you think you’ll need during your trip (whether prescription or over-the-counter).
- Keep the medications in their original containers
- Take the actual prescription with you (with the drug’s generic name and dosage)
- Take the prescription and medications in carry-on luggage
Additional resources are provided in the NYT article “How to Make Sure You Travel with Medication Legally.”
Also take extra glasses, contacts, and contact solution.
If you are sexually active while traveling, practice safe sex.
- Latex condoms might not be available so take your own supply
- Consider the culture and social norms around dating and intimacy
- If you plan to engage in a same-sex relationship, know the legality of this in the host country
- Above all, be respectful of yourself and others
Visit the Safer Sex page of the Yale Health website.