Pharmacy U

Travel health tips for frequent and infrequent travellers during COVID-19


by Pavithra Ravinatarajan RPh




Travelling can be a hectic and stressful time with numerous things on the go.


Passport, travel documents, Itinerary, cash are all often top of mind, but what about health?


Travel medications and vaccinations have not necessarily been at the forefront of many travellers’ minds. But things have changed. More than ever, travel health is key to ensuring safe travel.


How is your practice supporting those patients who may need to travel during these uncertain times?


Helping those patients who have chosen to travel is vital in ensuring their safety as well those around them. As healthcare providers we must advise our patients appropriately and ensure we guide them with the knowledge needed to travel safely. Itchy feet are nothing out of the ordinary. After months of restrictions being loosened, you may find patients seizing the opportunity to travel.


Here are some of the questions they may ask you:


What is my risk as a traveller?

Each person has a varying risk based on their own personal conditions. Age, underlying conditions such as diabetes, CVD, respiratory conditions all influence the threshold of risk for each patient. Have an open and informative discussion with your patients, letting them know which precautions they should take with the understanding that they should not ONLY be concerned with COVID-19 but also any local bacteria and viruses. It is important to avoid exposure of COVID-19 but also to protect our immune systems by staying as healthy as possible.


What is my destination risk?

Your patients’ destination also plays a large role in how much risk they are taking on. To begin with, where are they going? The number of cases in the destination country plays a key role in the level of exposure and risk your patients are exposing themselves to.  More importantly, what type of trip are your patients taking? Will they be in any particular setting? Understanding that locations such as cruises where you are confined to a certain area, utilizing the same equipment and products, has a larger chance of infection spread than more private travel.


Educate your patients to understand that safe travel is more enjoyable. Help them understand that many destinations may require them to be tested for COVID and shown to be negative before they land.


We expose ourselves to risk every day. It is the precautions we take that will help mitigate that risk.




How can I be safe?


These tips may sound familiar or something that is already well-known, but counselling patients on proper hygiene can help keep them safe:


  • Help patients understand the appropriate time and method to wash their hands.
  • Advise them that when travelling it is important they avoid touching their faces as much as possible. If they do need to touch their eyes, mouth, or nose, they should ensure their hands have just been washed.
  • Review proper sneezing/coughing technique. A cough can sometimes happen when you drink eat too fast. Review with patients how to properly cough into their elbow or tissue.
  • Advise patients to avoid the 3 Cs as much as possible:
    • Closed Spaces
    • Crowded Spaces
    • Close contact
  • Review proper mask technique and the importance of mask use.
  • Give patients a better understanding of using gloves and why gloves may not always be a good option.


How about vaccinations?


Prescription travel medications can vary depending on travellers’ destinations. For more exotic travel, it may helpful to investigate what preventive medication they should consider. Consider having a quick travel consultation with your patients or refer them to a travel specialist/clinic. Many travellers are aware they need to be cautious due to the current pandemic, but we must remind them that their destination may encourage other considerations. Vaccinations such as the flu shot are important not to place any added respiratory stress. Local virus/bacteria preventive vaccines/ treatments are also crucial. Patients who are travelling want to ensure they are not placing the kind of additional stress on their bodies that might make them more susceptible to sickness.


Travel can be a hectic and exciting time; don’t let your patients get caught off-guard on any health surprises. Happy planning and safe travels to everyone.


Pavithra Ravinatarajan RPh is the founder and CEO of Pavithra Consulting Inc.