Preparing for Travel

Before leaving on your next trip, review these items to ensure you'll be prepared for the unexpected.

  Preparing for Travel

Altitude Illness

  • At an altitude above 7,500 feet (2,286 meters), a mild decrease of oxygen in the blood occurs. This is usually tolerated by most individuals.
  • Those with severe lung or cardiac problems may become very short of breath. 
  • For persons with chronic cardiovascular or pulmonary problems, most airlines can deliver oxygen at a nominal extra charge if provided with a prescription from a physician with a two or three days' notice.
  • When scending above 8,200 feet (2,500 meters), mild nausea and mild headache, to a severe throbbing headache, confusion and profound shortness of breath may occur.
  • Individuals with serious underlying heart and lung problems are advised not to ascend above 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) without supplemental oxygen.

Allergic Reactions

  • Many international air travelers may be exposed to insecticides sprayed in airplane cabins to kill insects.
  • Tavelers with ragweed allergy may be at risk of developing an acute allergic reaction and difficulty breathing.
  • Reactions are likely to occur with the use of pyrethrin insecticides, which are extracted from a plant similar to ragweed.
  • As a preventive measure, allergic passengers should notify a crew member and request a wet towel or mask to cover the face. Breathing through the wet towel or mask minimizes the risk of an asthmatic reaction.


  • Have a thorough dental examination and all necessary dental work done several weeks before leaving home.


  • Wear comfortable, well-fitting and previously worn shoes.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing in several layers, which you can modify as the weather dictates.


  • Wash your hands frequently to reduce infectious disease transmission during travel. Soap and water will help remove potentially infectious materials from your hands.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a waterless, alcohol-based hand gel containing at least 60 percent alcohol.


  • Complete all immunizations prior to departure.
  • Keep your passport and yellow immunization booklet together, and carry them with you at all times.
  • Research recommended immunizations or visit for a complete list.

Insurance and Travel Insurance

  • Record names, policy numbers and telephone numbers of all of your health insurance carriers in case you require documentation of health insurance coverage while abroad.
  • Determine if you are covered while outside the United States.
  • Know the financial limitations of your policies. Most foreign hospitals will not accept U.S. insurance for payment. You may be required to settle the bill and seek reimbursement later.
  • All travelers, regardless of their age or current health status, should consider additional insurance.
  • Only specialized insurance will cover emergency air ambulance travel costs. Reasonably priced insurance is available. Contact your travel agent or visit
  • Corporate travelers in particular should have a clear understanding of their employer/employee financial responsibilities regarding illness and injuries acquired overseas or manifested upon return.

Liquids and Gels for Airline Travel

  • All liquids, gels and aerosols must be in three-ounce or smaller containers and must be placed together in a single, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag.
  • Exceptions can be made for prescription and over-the-counter medicines, baby formula, breastmilk, juice and other essential liquids, gels and aerosols.

Medical Emergencies

Medical History

  • Carry a card and wear a tag or bracelet identifying any disease or condition you have that may require emergency medical care.
  • If you have a history of heart disease, carry a copy of your most recent electrocardiogram in the event that you have cardiac difficulties overseas.


  • Never surrender your passport or immunization booklet to any person other than an international health authority or immigration officer.
  • Before you surrender your passport, determine the reasons that it must be detained, where it will be stored and appropriate methods for retrieving it.

Prescriptions and Medications

  • Prepare a list of your current medications and drug allergies.
  • Carry an adequate supply of prescription medications for the duration of your trip, plus enough for 10 extra days.
  • Keep all medications in your carry-on luggage.


  • Pace yourself and get plenty of rest during the trip. Fatigue is a major cause of serious accidents, injuries, poor decisions and illnesses abroad.

Vision Care

  • Take an extra pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses in case of accidental damage.
  • Also, request a copy of your eyeglass prescription from your optometrist, or record the prescription in your yellow immunization booklet.


  • Know the climate and general weather conditions for the countries you plan to visit.
  • Plain, loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and slacks are a necessity in malaria zones to prevent mosquito bites between dusk and dawn.

Please note that Sharp HealthCare does not control or endorse the information presented on external websites, nor do these websites endorse the information found on