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Going Abroad This Summer? Confront Travel Challenges with Planning and Preparation

Family with suitcases at airport
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The University of Kentucky Public Relations & Strategic Communications Office provides a weekly health column available for use and reprint by news media. This week's column is by Jason Hope, Director of Global Risk & Strategic Operations for the UK International Center.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 16, 2022) ­ Has the COVID-19 pandemic put your international travel plans on hold? Did you have to postpone a dream vacation or a visit to family overseas, whiling away the days until you could travel again? Visitor and tourist restrictions are being eased in many parts of the world and people are planning trips to make up for lost time

International travel has changed significantly over the past two years, and some significant challenges remain; it’s important to research your destination and plan accordingly. While it’s impossible to prepare for every situation, here are some tips to keep in mind as you plan your summer travels.

Check your destination’s restrictions and regulations.

Each country has its own COVID-19 entry requirements and its own protocols for masking, testing and quarantine. Check the State Department’s travel website for up-to-date information about your destination.

There may be additional inoculations recommended for travel, such as for hepatitis and yellow fever. Check the CDC’s website or ask your doctor what you need to stay safe and healthy at your destination.

Remember the return COVID test requirement.

In order to return to the United States at the end of your trip, you will have to show a negative COVID test or documentation of recovery. If you test positive at the end of your trip, you will have to stay in your host country for at least a few more days, so be sure to prepare for how you would handle that situation.

Let others know your travel plans.

If you have a chronic or pre-existing mental or physical health condition, it’s a good idea to discuss a plan for your care abroad with your physician well in advance of your departure. Also, consider designating someone as a point of contact in the event of a medical emergency. Keep their contact info on you and check in with them regularly.

Get travel insurance.

Remember that your insurance here in the United States may not cover all your medical expenses, so consider purchasing a travel medical insurance policy. Some policies may even cover expenses that you incur if you end up in quarantine. You may want to consider other insurance too, such as trip cancellation insurance in case you’re unable to travel at the last minute.

Packing pills? Know before you go.

Keep your medication in your carry-on in case your luggage is lost. If possible, pack enough medication for your entire trip, and bring some extra in case of travel delays. Talk to your doctor about the possibility of having your medications refilled while abroad.

Remember, some medications are illegal overseas. Every country has its own regulations around what can and cannot be brought in; just because a medication is legal in the United States does not mean it will be legal abroad. If you are unsure about the legality of your medication, the embassy in your destination country may be able to offer guidance.

While it’s not possible to anticipate every situation, it’s better to over-prepare than be caught unaware. Ask your doctor for suggestions and recommendations to keep yourself safe and healthy.

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