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Women: How to Stay Healthy and Safe When Traveling Abroad

The_U.S._Army_-_MEDRETE_in_the_Bac_Ninh_Province_of_Vietnam.
Sgt. Lisa Maynes, a health care specialist from Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii, takes a patient's vitals during the first MEDRETE held in the Bac Ninh Province of Vietnam. Photo Credit: the United States Army via Wikimedia Commons.

Travel Tips

Many business women and other female travelers feel that they face security and health issues different from those of their male colleagues when they travel in other countries.

This is especially true when they travel in Third World countries.

Some countries offer female only hotels, and women should consider staying in them if they are concerned about the safety. When booking their hotel rooms, they should consider the third to sixth floor as they are far enough away from the lobby area, but they can still be reached by a fire engine in the event of an emergency.

Understand Your Destination

Women should get a basic understanding of the city they will be staying in and determine if there are any trouble spots that they should avoid.

They should review the route from their hotel to the office or other places they will be visiting. And they should speak with security experts and others that have visited the destination to get their advice.

International SOS is a medical and security services company with 700 branches in 70 countries and a workforce of 10,000 employees.

Led by 1,100 physicians and 200 security specialists, it offers medical and risk planning, preventative programmes, in-country expertise, and emergency response for travelers, expatriates, and their dependents.

Tips on Staying Healthy and Safe When Traveling

International SOS offers the following tips on how women can stay healthy and safe when they travel abroad.

  • Access to medication which may be in short supply in less developed and low income countries. Women should therefore make an appointment with their doctor or travel clinic for a basic checkup at least six to eight weeks before they depart. “If you have an ongoing medical condition, ask your doctor about any additional precautions you’ll need to take while away and find out if any vaccinations or health checks are required for your destination,” the body says. 
  • Women should always take a “medical kit” wherever they go. They should also consider packing medical items in a personal carry-on bag so that there will not be a problem if their checked luggage is lost or delayed. “We’d advise you to carry your medication in its original packaging, and keep copies of your prescription with you,” the body says. "Women travellers can be susceptible to urine infections and thrush, and they can be side effects of certain kinds of malaria tablets.  If you think you may be at risk, ask your doctor if you can take some medication with you.” 
  • Sanitary supplies and contraception are not always available. Women should therefore bring some when traveling outside the Western World. “Alternatively, you may wish to speak to your doctor about continuing your contraception to avoid having a period whilst away,” the body says. “If the issues of contraception come up, make sure that you plan ahead, discuss your contraception with your doctor, and consider packing supplies.  If you suffer from diarrhoea while away, this can interrupt the absorption of the pill, and may leave you unprotected.”
  •  Women should dress modestly to avoid drawing attention to themselves. They should avoid wearing expensive jewelry and observe and respect local clothing customs. “If you do receive attention from local men, ignore any propositions or suggestive comments they may make,” the body says. “When walking alone in the street, keep your handbag and business luggage away from passing traffic. Familiarize yourself with your itinerary, walk purposefully and avoid using a map in full view. It is also a good idea to separate your credit cards from your cash; if one source is lost or stolen you still have a backup.”
  •  Women should keep their hotel room numbers confidential. “Do not display the room's key tag in public areas, and stress that the room number should not be given to any inquirers,” the body says. “When checking in, ask the receptionist to write the room number down, rather than tell you within earshot of other people. Insist that the hotel room has a key-chain, deadlock and spy-hole, and that the door and window locks work properly. Never open the door to anyone without taking precautions. If someone claims to be a member of staff, get their name and department and check.”
  • Women planning to travel while they are pregnant should make sure to see their doctor well in advance of their departure. “Make sure your travel health insurance covers pregnancy-related conditions and neonatal care,” the body says. “It’s also worth checking your airline’s rules for pregnant passengers as some require a letter from your doctor confirming your stage of pregnancy.”
  • Water quality can vary widely from country to country so women should only drink boiled or bottled water – but plenty of it - and they should avoid ice.   “Avoid any pre-peeled fruit or salad, only eat fruit and vegetables that you peel and wash yourself,” the body says. “Avoid malarial zones, if possible. Even when taking anti-malarial drugs, pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to the illness, which tends to affect them more severely.Steer clear of altitude destinations higher than 12,000 feet as it’s unknown what effects this may have on an unborn baby.”  

International SOS is a medical and security services company with branches 700 branches in 70 countries and a workforce of 10,000 employees.

Led by 1,100 physicians and 200 security specialists, it offers medical and risk planning, preventative programmes, in-country expertise, and emergency response for travelers, expatriates, and their dependants.

More than 70% of Fortune 500 companies use its services.

 

 

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