During Travel

woman on bridge looking at map

Take steps during travel to stay safe and healthy and avoid experiences that might ruin your trip.

Wash Your Hands

Regular handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. Wash your hands and take other precautions to prevent getting and spreading diseases while traveling:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. If you need to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • If you get sick during travel, stay in your accommodations, unless you need medical care.

Choose Safe Transportation

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among travelers. In many middle- or low-income destinations, there may be poor road surfaces, roads without shoulders, unprotected curves and cliffs, or no streetlights. In some destinations traffic laws and road signs may not be regularly followed. Follow these tips to reduce your risk of getting injured:

  • Always wear a seat belt.
  • Don't drive at night, especially in unfamiliar or rural areas.
  • Do not ride motorcycles. If you must ride a motorcycle, wear a helmet.
  • Know local traffic laws before you get behind the wheel.
  • Do not drink and drive.
  • Only ride in marked taxis that have seatbelts.
  • Avoid overcrowded, overweight, or top-heavy buses or vans.
  • Be alert when crossing the street, especially in countries where people drive on the left.

Prevent Bug Bites

On your trip, use insect repellent and take other steps to avoid bug bites. Bugs, including mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and flies, can spread diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and Lyme.

  • Use an EPA-registered insect repellent with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus/para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone.
  • Always apply sunscreen first, let it dry, and then apply insect repellent. Be sure to follow instructions on the label and re-apply both as directed.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.

Choose Safe Food and Drinks

Contaminated food or drinks can cause travelers’ diarrhea and other diseases and disrupt your travel. Travelers to low or middle income destinations are especially at risk. Choose safer food and drinks to prevent getting sick.

  • Eat foods that have been fully cooked and served hot.
  • Do not eat fresh vegetables or fruits unless you can wash or peel them yourself.
  • Drink only bottled, sealed beverages, and avoid ice—it was likely made with tap water.

Avoid Animals

Animals can look cute and cuddly, and you may want to pet them. But any animal, even if it appears to be friendly or harmless, can spread disease and may be dangerous. When traveling, don’t pet or feed animals, even pets, as they may not be vaccinated against rabies and other diseases. Animal bites can cause a bacterial infection, that may require antibiotics, so seek medical attention after any animal encounter. Also, be sure you are up-to-date on your tetanus vaccination.

Protect Against Sun and Extreme Temperatures

Apply sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher when traveling. Protecting yourself from the sun isn’t just for tropical beaches—you can get a sunburn even if it’s cloudy or cold.

If you are traveling in hot weather or in a hot climate, wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing. When traveling in cold weather or climates, wear warm clothing in several loose layers.

Emergencies and Natural Disasters

If you or a travel companion gets an injury or sickness that can’t be helped with basic first aid or an over-the-counter medicine, seek medical attention right away. Visit Getting Health Care During Travel to learn how to connect with a doctor or medical services during your trip.

If you bought evacuation insurance and think you need to use it, call the travel insurance company for assistance.

For other emergencies or natural disasters you may want to do the following:

More Information on Different Types of Travel