Travel: Helpful Health Hints For Students Studying Abroad




The University Health Service staff wishes you great success and an enjoyable experience in your studies abroad. Use the following checklist as a guideline to help you maintain good health habits while away.

Before you go...

  • Check with UHS International Travel Care Clinic (643-7177) at least 3-6 months before your departure date to assure sufficient time to get new and updated immunizations and TB testing done. You should be aware that failure to get the necessary documentation may result in your trip being cancelled.
  • Anyone with a chronic condition (e.g. asthma, depression, anxiety) should have an evaluation with their health care provider.  Women should consider having a Pap and STD check-up and men a STD check-up if indicated.
  • If you wear glasses or contact lenses, you should have had an eye exam within the past year.
  • Make sure you've had a recent dental exam and teeth cleaning.
  • Medic-Alert bracelets are recommended for chronic conditions and serious allergies to medications or foods. You can pick up an application in Allergy/Travel Clinic, Clinics 1-3 or in the EAP office.
  • If you have health insurance, check with the company about how to handle medical needs abroad. UC EAP students should refer to the EAP insurance policy brochure. For those going on a UC sponsored and supervised trip, supplemental insurance coverage is available at no cost. Information is at: www.uctrips-insurance.org/. Registration prior to travel is required.

What to Take With You

  • Documents:
    • Written prescriptions for medications. Check with the embassy of the country or countries you will be traveling to for information on what medications, both prescription and nonprescription, are legal to bring into the country and restrictions on amounts allowed as well as mailing restrictions. The US Embassy may also have information for visitors. Essential medication should be transported in carryon luggage
    • Letter from your clinician stating need for medications. This may be optional depending on your destination. Check with UHS International Travel Care Clinic or the embassy of the country or countries you will be traveling to.
    • Yellow International Certificate of Vaccination.
    • Health Insurance forms in case you need them. Fill out whatever information you can in advance.
    • Copy of contact lens and/or glasses prescription.
    • Copies of passport, birth certificate, other identification and important phone numbers (family, insurance, embassy, etc) in case of losses. Copies of passport and ID should also be available at home for faxing, if needed.
    • If you attended a travel consultation, bring your travel packet.
    • Register with the State Department so you can be contacted in case of an emergency at home or a crisis in your host country:  http://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/index.aspx
  • Medical Items:
    • Keep prescription medication in original packages. Bring a sufficient supply. Drugs purchased abroad, particularly in Africa and Asia may not have the same  potency or purity as those from home.  In some cases drugs of the same name are a different medication.
    • Women using the pill or other methods of birth control should take a supply to last the duration of the stay.
    • Over-the-counter medication such as: pain relievers/fever reducers - ibuprofen (e.g., Advil), acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol); diarrhea medicine (e.g., Pepto-Bismol, immodium); decongestants, vitamins, etc. These are available for purchase at the UHS Pharmacy in generic form. Cold medications may be subject to restrictions in certain countries.
    • Women with a history of recurrent yeast vaginitis should take along an over-the counter yeast medication.
    • Safer sex supplies, such as condoms, foam, lubricants, latex squares.
  • Personal Care Items:
    • Extra pair of prescription glasses or contact lenses.
    • Contact lens solution and equipment.
    • Your preferred brand of:  
      • toothpaste
      • deodorant
      • sunscreen  
      • tampons
      • bandages
      • shampoo
  • Don't Forget:
    • Have TB testing done about three months after you return.
    • AIDS & other STIs are worldwide problems. Condoms are the best protection other than abstinence.
    • Keep in mind that standards of health care and patient-client relationships will be different in your host country.

Top 10 Things Every Student Should Know About Substance Use Abroad

  1. If you decide to drink while abroad, remember to set limits and use good judgment.
  2. Don’t use drugs, it’s against the EAP policy. And it could result in some really awful legal trouble. (Have you seen Locked Up Abroad)?
  3. Research the laws and customs of your host country prior to departure.
  4. Know where you are going and who you are with at all times…use the Buddy System!
  5. If you are living with a host family, be respectful. Don’t come home drunk and with a guest, unless you have permission. (Also, against EAP policy).
  6. If you are drunk, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to being taken advantage of. Many theft and assault victims are targeted when making their way home from a late night out after drinking alcohol.
  7. If you are caught with illegal drugs in a foreign country, you are subject to the drug laws of that country. They may or may not provide a jury trial or lawyer.
  8. Public drunkenness is frowned upon in many countries and is an offense that may lead to jail.
  9. Don’t give Americans or your school a bad rap!
  10. Don’t you want to REMEMBER your year abroad???

You are excited to go abroad… make the most of your  year, try not to let
alcohol or drugs use interfere with taking advantage of all the opportunities offered to you!


Useful websites…


Remember . . .

  • Have repeat TB testing done about three months after you return, if you have traveled in an area with high rates of TB.
  • AIDS & other STDs are worldwide problems. Other than abstinence, condoms are the best protection.
  • Keep in mind that standards of health care and patient-client relationships will be different in your host country. Be respectful of the differences, and learn how to best use the new health care system.


Related Services at the Tang Center

For Students:

  • Advice Nurse: (510) 643-7197
  • Appointments: (510) 642-2000
  • Self Care Resource Center: (510) 642-7202
  • Travel Clinic: (510) 643-7177

For Faculty and Staff:

  • Please refer questions to your health plan or primary care provider.
  • Travel Clinic: (510) 643-7177

Related Topics

Disclaimer: The information provided here is not intended to diagnose, treat or provide a second opinion on any health problem or disease. It is meant to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between an individual and his/her clinician.

Last reviewed: August 2005

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