Before You Travel


Before you travel, take steps to prepare so you can stay safe and healthy during your trip.

Check CDC’s destination pages for travel health information. Check CDC’s webpage for your destination to see what vaccines or medicines you may need and what diseases or health risks are a concern at your destination.

Make sure you are up-to-date on all of your routine vaccines. Routine vaccinations protect you from infectious diseases such as measles that can spread quickly in groups of unvaccinated people. Many diseases prevented by routine vaccination are not common in the United States but are still common in other countries.

Know Your Health Status

Make an appointment with your healthcare provider or a travel health specialist that takes place at least one month before you leave. They can help you get destination-specific vaccines, medicines, and information. Discussing your health concerns, itinerary, and planned activities with your provider allows them to give more specific advice and recommendations.

Learn About Blood Clots

Airplane travel, especially flights longer than 4 hours, may increase your risk for blood clots, including deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Learn how to prevent blood clots during travel.

Share the following information about yourself or your trip with your provider:

  • Special conditions such as pregnancy, allergies, or chronic health problems.
  • Destinations on your itinerary.
  • Type of accommodations (hotels, hostels, short term rentals).
  • Type of travel (cruise, business, adventure travel).
  • Timing and length of your trip.
  • Planned activities.

Take recommended medicines as directed. If your doctor prescribes medicine for you, take the medicine as directed before, during, and after travel. Counterfeit drugs are common in some countries, so only take medicine that you bring from home and make sure to pack enough for the duration of your trip, plus extra in case of travel delays. Learn more about traveling abroad with medicine.

Plan for the Unexpected

Sometimes unexpected issues occur during travel. Learn what you can do before you leave to protect yourself and your travel companions.

Get travel insurance. Find out if your health insurance covers medical care abroad. Travelers are usually responsible for paying hospital and other medical expenses out of pocket at most destinations. Make sure you have a plan to get care overseas, in case you need it. Consider buying additional insurance that covers health care and emergency evacuation, especially if you will be traveling to remote areas.

There are different types of travel insurance such as trip cancellation insurance, travel health insurance and medical evacuation insurance. Learn more about travel insurance.

Enroll with the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Check for and monitor any travel advisories for your destination. Enrolling also ensures that the US Department of State knows where you are if you have serious legal, medical, or financial difficulties while traveling. In the event of an emergency at home, STEP can also help friends and family contact you.

Prepare for emergencies. Leave copies of important travel documents (e.g. itinerary, contact information, credit cards, passport, proof of school enrollment) with someone at home, in case you lose them during travel. Make sure someone at home knows how to reach you in an emergency. Carry your emergency contacts with you at all times.

Some other tips to prepare for emergencies:

  • Write down the contact information of people or services you may need while abroad.
  • Check in with someone regularly during your trip.
  • Contact your local US embassy, consulate, or diplomatic mission. They are available 24/7 with emergency assistance for US citizens.
    • Dial 1-888-407-4747 if calling from the United States or Canada,
    • Dial 00 1 202-501-4444 if calling from overseas, or
    • Let family members know they can contact the embassy or consulate for help if they are worried about your safety while abroad.

Prepare a travel health kit with items you may need, especially those items that may be difficult to find at your destination. Include your prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines in your travel health kit and take enough to last your entire trip, plus extra in case of travel delays. Depending on your destination you may also want to pack a maskinsect repellent, sunscreen (SPF15 or higher), aloe, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, water disinfection tablets, and your health insurance card.

More information for some travelers who may need to take extra precautions:

Follow CDC’s guidance on how to stay safe during travel and after travel.