Prepa­ra­tion for gap year all-im­por­tant

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Health - Dr Tom Milden­hall

MANY young peo­ple in the west­ern sub­urbs choose to take a gap year to travel at some stage dur­ing their univer­sity life.

This unique ex­pe­ri­ence rep­re­sents an op­por­tu­nity for ad­ven­ture and dis­cov­ery, and achiev­ing a broader life per­spec­tive prior to em­bark­ing on a spe­cific study or ca­reer path.

But trav­el­ling abroad dur­ing a gap year also comes with some sig­nif­i­cant risks and it’s use­ful to con­sider the dif­fer­ent health risks that may await when plan­ning your trip.

Travel in­sur­ance is a vi­tal first step in min­imis­ing risk and en­sur­ing help can be ac­cessed if some­thing does go wrong while away.

Any overseas des­ti­na­tion may host a va­ri­ety of in­fec­tious dis­eases that are not present in Aus­tralia. So it’s use­ful to touch base with a travel doc­tor at least 6-8 weeks prior to de­par­ture.

This may in­volve en­sur­ing rou­tine child­hood im­mu­ni­sa­tions are com­pleted and estab­lish­ing whether any manda­tory vac­cines are re­quired.

Ad­di­tional vac­cines or med­i­ca­tion may be rec­om­mended, de­pen­dent on your spe­cific health cir­cum­stances, as well as the des­ti­na­tion, length and type of trip you are plan­ning. Take a first aid kit with you. This can in­clude med­i­ca­tions, such as to treat a gas­tro ill­ness, to pre­vent al­ti­tude sick­ness and to min­imise risk of malaria.

Your doc­tor will talk to you about whether th­ese are worth­while for your spe­cific trip.

It’s im­por­tant for trav­ellers to ap­pre­ci­ate that sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted in­fec­tions such as HIV are far more preva­lent in many overseas des­ti­na­tions and it’s es­sen­tial to prac­tise safe sex.

Have a safe and func­tional method for ac­cess­ing funds while trav­el­ling; it’s worth­while talk­ing to your lo­cal bank about op­tions and also con­sider the safest way of car­ry­ing money around.

And fi­nally, plan how you will com­mu­ni­cate with your fam­ily while away.

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