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Gap year

Gap year
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7 tips for a healthy year abroad

Taking a year out of education between high school and university is an exciting opportunity to venture out into the wider world. Stay healthy with our tips.

1.       Shots for gap year travellers

Make an appointment with a travel health adviser at least eight weeks before you leave. If your plans include more than one country and you will be away for more than a month, Canadian Travel Clinics can offer you a double appointment. Make the most of our travel nurse’s expertise by asking about any other travel health issues, such as sun care, safer sex and accident prevention.

2.       Insurance is your friend

It is highly recommended that you purchase travel health insurance before departing Canada because provincial or territorial health plans may not cover medical costs while abroad. Contact your provincial or territorial health authority for more information. If you are not insured some medical facilities may refuse to care for you. You should also check that you are insured for all the activities you have planned.

3.       Look after your mental health

Travel is a stressful business, particularly if you are being exposed to a culture that is very different to what you are used to in Canada. Add to that anxiety about travel, jet lag, home sickness and a disrupted routine can have an impact on your mental health. Have a plan and think about your support network, even if you have never had any problems with your mental health.

4.       Prevent bug bites

There is more to a mosquito bite than itching: a number of really serious illnesses are carried by blood sucking insects such as mosquitoes and ticks. Zika, yellow fever, Dengue fever and Chikungunya all have mosquitoes as their vectors. Apply an insect repellent containing DEET and cover up well. See our article on insect-borne diseases for more information.

5.       Eat and drink for health

You still need to eat a good diet while you’re travelling, and you should also familiarize yourself with basic food and water hygiene, particularly in areas where sanitation is not up to Canadian standards. This knowledge will allow you to make good decisions about what you eat and drink.

6.       About safer sex

Some travellers find that being away from home lowers their inhibitions so that they indulge in risky behaviours such as unprotected sex, which could potentially expose them to sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Even if you think this would not apply to you, inform yourself about safer sex and carry condoms so that you can make healthy choices. The Government of Canada has some information about STIs, safer sex and travel.

7.       Stay safe on the road

A car or motorcycle crash could put you in hospital and cut short your travelling time. If you don’t feel confident riding a motorbike or moped, think twice about hiring one. Driving while impaired by drugs and alcohol can get you in serious trouble and it puts you and others at risk. Don’t do it!

With the lecture out of the way, have a great trip and take lots of pictures! And why not make your appointment to arrange your travel jabs in Edmonton, or one of our other clinics in Fort McMurray, Medicine Hat, Okotoks, Red Deer or Calgary.