How to travel while preserving your health

How to travel while preserving your health

what are we talking about

There are a number of diseases that can be caught while traveling abroad. Most are innocuous and transient. However, depending on the destination, the danger is more serious. We think in particular of certain regions where tropical diseases such as yellow fever or malaria are rife.

In addition, there are risks that are found abroad because they follow us everywhere, for example sexually transmitted infections (STIs). AIDS and Hepatitis B are potentially serious and cannot be completely cured by any treatment. Other STIs are treatable, but can cause complications (eg, syphilis or herpes).


In 2020, each person domiciled in Switzerland undertook at least one multi-day trip, 45% of which took place abroad, according to the Federal Statistical Office.

To avoid getting sick during what should be a leisure time, it is important to learn about possible health risks. If necessary, the attending physician or a hospital center specializing in travel medicine will be able to provide all the relevant information. It will then be necessary to constitute a travel pharmacy which must be prepared with care.


If you plan to travel to a country where tropical diseases are rife, find out at least four to six weeks before departure about the necessary vaccines, as some must be administered in several doses at spaced intervals.

The recommended vaccines obviously depend on the destination and the health situation in the region, but also on the terms of your stay (duration, accommodation with locals or in a high-end hotel, etc.). In any case, this is a good opportunity to update your vaccines.

Even in the event of a hasty departure, it is strongly advised to consult a doctor or a center specializing in travel medicine, as it is possible to apply accelerated vaccination schedules. There are “2 in 1” vaccines, that is to say that it is possible to put two different vaccines in the same syringe. Even in the event of a cold, cough or flu, vaccination is normally possible. On the other hand, fever is a contraindication.

The travel pharmacy

The contents of your travel pharmacy are, of course, determined by the destination, the length of stay and the state of health of all those accompanying you. Do not forget to check the expiry dates of medicines before storing them with the instructions and the original packaging in the kit.

If you are currently undergoing treatment, make a sufficient supply of your medication, which you will divide between two pieces of luggage. Take the prescription with you, because depending on the type of medicine, you may be asked for it at customs. Also consider jet lag if you have to take medication at fixed times (such as the contraceptive pill) and seek advice from a healthcare professional if in doubt.

For basic care, bring disinfectant, bandages, small scissors and tweezers, not to mention the mosquito repellent and sunscreen that are essential for any summer trip, as well as condoms and possibly medicine against motion sickness. . If you go far, also consider medication for diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

Depending on the risk of tropical diseases in the country of destination, it will be necessary to consider completing your kit with specific drugs. A health professional will be able to advise you and prescribe them, if necessary. Finally, write down and keep with you the emergency numbers useful in the event of a health problem on site.

Some tips

  • Against mosquito bites, everything is good to take: repellents to apply on the skin and on the clothes, mosquito nets, electric diffusers to be connected to the mains… Wear covering and light-colored clothing so that the insects which could attack are more easily visible to you.
  • Remember this barrier gesture learned during the coronavirus pandemic: wash your hands regularly with an appropriate product. If you have any doubts about the potability of tap water, don’t; buy it bottled.
  • With regard to sexually transmitted diseases, the condom (female or male) is essential to prevent the risk of infection during vaginal, anal or oral penetration (the rule is: “no semen or menstrual blood in the stuffy”). Consult as soon as possible in the event of risky sexual contact or in the event of the appearance of redness, lesions or pain in the genital, anal or oral regions.


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