Yes, I know it's right after the holidays. But, it's also summer in the Southern Hemisphere!
Who travels? Actually, over a billion people travel internationally per year. Tourism is the first or second largest income source for 20 of the 48 least-developed nations.
So, what can go wrong?
Well, if you've had a heart attack or a heart bypass, you should avoid travel for 2 weeks to avoid a heart problem in flight. If your heart attack was at all complicated (for example, heart failure), then make that 6 weeks.
The most common cause of travel-related death in non-elderly travelers is motor vehicle accidents, especially in less developed countries. Watch carefully when crossing streets, think carefully about how to get around safely. A bus in the daytime is probably better than a motorcycle or back of an open truck at night.
The most common infection is Traveler's diarrhea which occurs in 30-70% of travelers depending on destination and season, especially within the first 2 weeks of travel. Interestingly, avoiding street foods, raw foods, ice or tap water don't seem to prevent illness. Hand washing lowers your risk of diarrhea by 30%. Pepto-Bismol (2 tablets, 4 times every day) can further reduce risk by 50-65%, if you're prone to such illnesses. However, you should avoid this if you are allergic to aspirin, have chronic kidney disease, are breast-feeding or are on blood thinners.
As far as shots are concerned, flu and Hepatitis A shots are recommended to avoid getting flu or infectious hepatitis (from contaminated water or foods). Do check for any need for specific shots such as typhoid or yellow fever.
Also, be aware of whether you will need a prescription for any pills to prevent malaria. In addition, bring DEET-containing insect repellent, clothes that cover your arms and legs fully and a bed net if you are traveling to malarial areas.
This just covers a few very specific concerns. Overall, travel is exciting and safe. Outside of these specific medical tips, the best thing is to exercise common sense.
Feel free to see us about a month or two before travel if we can help you with advice, medications or shots. Have a great trip!