Preparing to travel internationally takes planning. The earlier you prepare for your travel, the more time you have to work around other's schedules. Some of the necessary planning includes going to see your dentist, getting required vaccinations for the country(ies) you'll be traveling to or through, getting prescription medications lined up, and talking with your health insurance company.
- Contact your insurance company about vaccines and prescription medications. Arrange to get all medications prior to leaving for your travel or program. This may be a time consuming matter and should not be put off. Your insurance company may require a note on Earlham letterhead from IPO stating that you are participating on a semester-long program. You will not be able to just go to the pharmacy and pick up 5 months of your prescription, unless you pay out of pocket. Call your insurance company immediately to determine what will be needed for them to cover this cost; probably a written prescription and a letter from IPO. Keep prescription medications in their original package. Keep all medications in your "carry-on" luggage. Customs may require a copy of the written prescription. Do not stop, alter dosage, or try new medications just prior to traveling. Medication can not be mailed to you.
- Get required vaccinations at least 4 weeks prior to leaving. This gives your body time to develop the immunities the vaccine is stimulating. Vaccinations are costly. You may need to inquire about insurance coverage for vaccines. Vaccines can be cheaper at a "Travel Clinic" or County Health Department. Insurance may cover the cost of the vaccine with stipulations; only if you get it through a certain pharmacy or office. Check to se what your insurance company requires. Health Services will take orders for vaccinations; we do not keep a stock of all vaccines. We encourage students to get vaccinations prior to "finals week." We do not administer vaccinations during May Term, or in the summer. We are closed when classes are not in session. An International Certificate of Vaccination, commonly called a "Yellow Book," is only necessary when yellow fever is required. If you already have a Yellow Book, bring it with you, so we can document vaccines we give you.
- Don't forget to pack routine, over-the-counter meds that you probably will need. Cold medicine, Tylenol(TM), allergy meds, something for constipation, as well as anti-diarrheal, all are good things to take with you. It is convenient to have what you need, and not have to try to find a similar drug to what you use at home. While it is nice to help each other out, sharing Tylenol (TM), cold meds, etc. it is against Earlham College policy for Professors to administer medications. Please don't put them in a tight spot by asking them for medications.
Additional areas to consider while at your destination(s):
- Stay healthy while there. Eat well and be cautious of street vendors. Get a good night's sleep. Be safe in your conduct: drinking alcohol = easy target. Always go with a friend, travel in pairs or a group.
- Take care of self. It's easy to get disenfranchised. Be aware of stress, so do something physical or of value to you: run, play piano, read, go to church, etc. Find comforts with pictures from home or having a special blanket; but avoid frequent e-mails or calls home. Talk to your group leader if you feel you are getting stressed. Don't hesitate to tell your group leader or Professor if you observe someone else getting stressed or struggling. This is not squealing, but may prevent additional problems.
- Take care of each other. You are now a family. This is your circle of support. Be respectful of each other, don't be late, and stay well. Give each other space, while also looking out for each other. Don't be a burden.
- Avoid sexual situations. There are too many people without moral or ethics to know exactly what their sexual background might be. Avoiding "hooking up" with someone on your travels may be costly to you in STDs, HCGs, exploitation, or mooching off of you. Though someone may seem exotic or rich, that doesn't mean there won't be emotional baggage you may have to deal with from them or because of them.
- Avoid street drugs. Recreational drugs are never a good thing, but especially in a strange place. The drugs may different from what you are used to. Also, taking drugs makes you an easy target.
Remember, your group leader or Professor cannot dispense medication.
We want you to have fun and enjoy your Travel/Study Abroad. Follow these guidelines and you are off to a good start!
Additional resources for your travel planning needs:
The Travel Doctor
For the most up-to-date travel health information, consult Health Services or the Earlham International Programs Office (IPO).