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Travel Health Tips
Forward planning and careful precautions can reduce the risks of health problems during your travel.
Before you go
- Check resources for information on the standard of hygiene, sanitation, medical care and water quality in the areas you are visiting.
- Find out about health and safety risks for the area you are visiting. For example, is malaria present?
- Consult your medical practitioner to find out if any vaccinations or other medical precautions are recommended or required for the areas you are travelling to. Try to do this 6-8 weeks before you leave. As a minimum, you should ensure that all your routine immunisations are up-to-date (such as tetanus, measles, and polio vaccinations).
- Have a dental check-up, especially if you have chronic or recurrent dental problems and will be travelling to remote areas.
- Prepare a medical kit for all destinations. It should include basic medicines to treat common ailments, and first-aid items including special personal medical items needed by you or your family. Ask your doctor for advice.
- Some categories of prescription medicines should be carried together with a medical certificate, signed by a doctor. This may be necessary to show to Customs officials. Ask your doctor if this is recommended.
- Take out full, comprehensive medical insurance, including cover for hospitalisation and medical repatriation. Make sure it covers your personal circumstances, both for pre-existing conditions and the activities you plan to undertake.
While you are away
- If unsure of hygiene standards only eat thoroughly cooked food and only drink well-sealed bottled or packaged cold drinks. Boil drinking water or use water purification tablets if its quality is doubtful. Avoid ice in your drinks.
- Take sensible precautions. For example, in areas where there is a malaria risk, cover yourself well and use insect repellent.
- Carry medicines in your hand luggage in case your luggage is lost.
- Wear a medical alert bracelet if you have allergies or a chronic illness.
- If you are treated overseas for illness or injury, obtain a full written medical report for your insurer or for the Accident Compensation Commission.
After you come home
- If you become ill after returning from overseas, remember to tell your doctor which countries you have visited.
- In particular, if you develop flu-like symptoms, or a serious respiratory illness following travel to an area with avian influenza, you should tell your doctor where you have travelled and if you have been to any wet poultry markets, or had close contact with a person diagnosed with avian influenza.
Accidents, injuries and violence
The World Health Organisation notes that:
“Travellers are more likely to be killed or injured in accidents or through violence than to be struck down by an exotic infectious disease. Traffic accidents are the most frequent cause of death among travellers. Traffic accidents and violence are significant risks in many countries, particularly developing countries, where skilled medical care may not be readily available. Accidents and injuries also occur in other settings, particularly in recreational waters in association with swimming, diving, sailing and other activities. Travellers can reduce the possibility of incurring these risks through awareness of the dangers and by taking the appropriate precautions.” WHO International travel and health publication.
- have comprehensive travel insurance
- take adequate precautions, especially if undertaking activities with risks associated
- take particular care around traffic.
Six to eight weeks before you travel, you should consult your doctor or travel health specialist about:
- any health concerns where you are travelling
- any inoculations you should have before you leave
- any medications you should take with you.
Your doctor should be able to provide you with the advice you need for your particular circumstances, and provide you with up to date travel health advice based on official and unofficial sources. As a minimum, you should ensure that all your routine immunisations are up-to-date (such as tetanus, measles, and polio vaccinations).
Different countries have different rules on the types of medications you can bring with you into the country when you travel. If you need to take medications with you, you should check the regulations that apply in the country you are travelling to. To do this, contact the Embassy or High Commission of that country.
If you are travelling with large quantities of medication, ask your doctor, dentist or pharmacist to give you a letter explaining why you are carrying the medication.
Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC)
In some cases the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) may provide cover to New Zealanders, on their return to NZ, for treatment of injuries sustained while travelling on short trips overseas.
To qualify, the individual must be ordinarily resident in New Zealand.
ACC assistance is not available to cover any costs related to treatment overseas.
A full written medical report from the doctor, dentist or hospital detailing the incident and any treatment received overseas should be requested if an individual intends to put in a claim on return to new Zealand.
The ACC website provides information on eligibility and how to claim.
If a family member dies while travelling overseas as a result of an accident, you can make a claim to ACC. See Accidental Death for information on how ACC can help and how to make a claim.
If you have an accident or fall ill while you are overseas medical costs can be enormous.
You should ensure you have comprehensive medical insurance to cover medical costs overseas, as well as repatriation costs.
Make sure your insurance policy covers any activities you are planning to undertake because many policies exclude activities such as climbing and scuba diving.
You should also make sure you are covered for pre-existing conditions – whether physical or psychiatric – and, if necessary, purchase specific cover for these.
Talk to your insurance provider about the details of your policy before you travel.
Reciprocal Healthcare Agreements
New Zealand has reciprocal healthcare agreements with Australia and the United Kingdom. For details on these visit: