Health prevention for travellers heading South



We’ve all experienced a sense of holiday happiness – this bubble that makes us float during the days following our return home. These benefits the mind, body and soul are priceless.

We had the chance to ask Marie-Julie Gagnon, author, journalist, blogger (Taxi Brousse) and frequent traveler, a few questions about her discoveries and experiences of travel health and shares her tips to prepare travellers before heading South.

Q. What are the biggest health risks when traveling down South?

Marie-Julie: “Preparation is the key as travel health risks can exist in any tropical destination. In search of vacation bliss, most Quebecers (52%)* head down South to feel energized and inspired from unique travel experience. Taking preventative health measures helps ensure we return home rejuvenated. In fact, the Protect Your Vacation Bliss survey, commissioned by GlaxoSmithKline inc., found that one third (41%)* of travelling Quebeckers said that coming home with a serious health problem would put a quick end to their vacation bliss. So why risk possibly losing all of the benefits gained during the vacation by bringing home sickness?”

Q. What are some health precautions that you take before going on vacation?

Marie-Julie: “There are a variety of health concerns to consider before going on vacation ranging from upset stomach to travellers’ diarrhea or hepatitis A and B. Remember consider preventative health measures such as travel vaccines before you go on vacation. I ensure that I protect my vacation bliss before travelling down South; I learn more about my destination in the sun, and once I understand the potential health risks, I make sure that I am up to date with my travel vaccinations. I also purchase over-the-counter remedies for digestive issues, nausea, travellers ‘diarrhea. I make sure I have adequate medications and I bring along my prescription note) if my family or I take these routinely.”

Q. What are the essentials you should travel with that otherwise you may not be able to obtain in Mexico or the Caribbean?

Marie-Julie: “We usually can find mostly anything in Mexico and the Caribbean (except when we’re far from a city!), but it’s always better to leave home with an adequate emergency kit. I never leave home without the basics: Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen, disinfectant, Band-Aids… I also make sure I have enough Sunscreen and mosquito repellent. I also bring probiotics.”

Q: Often, travellers book luxury hotels in order to feel safer, as opposed to a cheaper option. However, is that always the safest option? What are some of the risks that can still occur?

Marie-Julie: “Risk can exist anywhere, which is why it is important to take preventative measures before going on your winter getaway. Most of us will enjoy the fun and freedom that comes from taking a day trip to hike or snorkel, spa services, renting a moped to go out and enjoy the local food & drink or nightlife, maybe even those less planned choices such as a tattoo or piercing. Yet travellers need to consider that potential health risks exist in any tropical environment – including at luxury resorts. Don’t be paranoid, but take care of yourself!”

*The “Protecting Your Vacation Bliss” Survey was conducted by Vector Research to examine experiences and attitudes about travel health and wellness benefits. Funded by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the data was fielded between December 16 and 24, 2016 and included an online poll of (1000) Canadians.


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