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Pay Attention to Your Health During Your Trip

You can reduce your chances of getting sick or injured while traveling by following these recommendations:


  • Use sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection.
  • Prevent mosquito and other bug bites.
    • Use insect repellent (with DEET or picaridin) on uncovered skin when outdoors, especially during the day.
      • Repellents that have 30% - 50% DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) are recommended for adults. If the repellent has less than 25% DEET, it may not protect you as long, so be sure to reapply more often.
      • Repellents that have up to 15% picaridin are also available. This type of repellent should be reapplied often to protect you.
      • For more information about using insect repellent on infants and children, see the “Insect and Other Arthropod Protection” in Traveling Safely with Infants and Children and the “Children” section of CDC’s Frequently Asked Questions about Repellent Use.
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors at night in areas with malaria.
    • Clothing may also be sprayed with repellent containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent for greater protection. (Remember: don't use permethrin on skin.)
    • If you can, stay in hotels or resorts that are well screened or air conditioned.
    • For more information about insect and mosquito prevention, see Insect and Arthropod Protection and Questions and Answers: Insect Repellent Use and Safety
  • Be careful about food and water.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially before eating or preparing food and after you use the bathroom, cough, or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand gel (with at least 60% alcohol).
    • In some countries, you should only drink bottled or boiled water or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, learn how to make water safer to drink.
    • Depending on where you are traveling, you may need to take extra precautions with the food that you eat. See country-specific tips for your destination.
  • Try not to take risks with your health and safety. Make sure to follow local laws and customs.
    • Limit alcohol intake, and do not drink alcohol and drive. Some countries have very strict laws against drinking and driving.
    • Always wear a seatbelt, if one is available.
    • Wear protective gear when doing adventure activities (for example, life jackets for water activities and helmets for biking, rappelling, etc.)
    • Use caution when swimming and participating in other water activities.
      • Wear a life jacket when participating in water sports, such as boating and water skiing.
      • Only swim in chlorinated pools. Do not swim in freshwater in developing areas or where sanitation is poor.
      • Be aware of local weather conditions and forecasts. Watch for large waves, strong tides, and signs of rip currents.
      • Children should be supervised by an adult at all times near water.
    • Be careful when traveling within your destination. Accidents involving cars, buses, motorcycles, and other motor vehicles, as well as pedestrians are more common during travel that you might think.
      • When possible, hire a local driver. Ask your hotel for a trustworthy driver or taxi company.
      • Do not travel with a driver who has been drinking.
      • Try not to travel on overloaded buses or mini-buses.
      • Avoid traveling at night. Some countries have curfew laws and safety concerns.
      • Try to travel with others and not alone.
      • Learn more about road traffic and other injuries abroad.
  • Avoid animal bites by not handling or petting animals, especially dogs and cats. If you are bitten or scratched, wash the wound immediately with soap and water and seek medical attention to determine if medication or anti-rabies vaccine is needed. Learn more in the Rabies section of the Travelers’ Health website.
  • Do not share needles for tattoos, body piercing, or injections, to avoid infections such as HIV and viral hepatitis.
  • Always use latex condoms if you have sex to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot, especially on beaches where there may be animal waste, to prevent fungal and parasitic infections.
  • When traveling with small children, make sure an adult is watching them at all times. Pay careful attention to their health and safety.

If you are planning a cruise trip, here are some additional tips for safe and healthy cruising:

  • Wash your hands! Learn more about handwashing techniques.
  • Avoid close contact with sick passengers. If you see someone who may be ill, tell the cruise staff right away.
  • Take care of your health. Remember to get plenty of rest and drink lots of clean water.
  • Be considerate of other people’s health. If you are sick before taking a cruise, call the cruise line to determine if there are alternative cruising options.

For more information, see CDC’s Cruising Tips fact sheet. CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) posts most recent sanitation scores and reports for specific cruise ships on its website. In general, the higher the score, the higher the level of sanitation, but this score does not reflect the risk of getting some diseases.