Top Travel Vet Tips

  1. Get vaccinated. It is vital to get the correct immunisations for your destination. Go to a travel clinic or find a GP who is specialised in travel medicine to ask advice if you are unsure. The NHS fitfortravel website has lots of useful information. Vaccines take time and for some diseases, you will need multiple vaccinations, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to organise this (minimum 2 months). Take copies of your documents with you when you go abroad.

  2. Malaria prevention. Is the area you are traveling to a malaria risk zone? If so, make sure you have the correct preventative medication. It is worth noting that whilst some medications are more expensive, they are easier to take and cause fewer side effects. It is also worth noting that some medications have to be taken prior to and post travel, so make sure you have plenty of time to get organised. 

  3. Take appropriate clothing. Before you go, research into what clothing is culturally appropriate and think about the temperature both during the day and at night. As a vet, I always take a pair of protective shoes to operate in and a good few pairs of scrubs (these can double up as evening trousers if you have too many). It is always possible to buy clothing when you are there so don't panic if you forget something. If you wear contact lenses, always take a pair of glasses as a back up incase it's too dirty to use contacts lenses.

  4. Organise your Visa/s. This can often be done online through government sites if it is a short trip, however long, working holidays often require more organisation and sometimes require visits to visa offices. There are companies which can orgnise this for you, however, this is at extra cost. 

  5. Book your flight. The further in advance you do this, the cheaper the flight. Don't forget to arrange somewhere safe to stay if you have a long stopover. Round trips can often work out cheaper too. 

  6. Insect bite avoidance. Whilst there are anti-malarial medications, other diseases such as dengue fever and leishmaniasis have no preventative treatment, therefore avoidance of bites is essential. Different insects bite at different times of the day, so it's worth avoiding bites the whole day long. Keys to doing this include investing in a good quality insect repellent containing DEET and applying as per instructions, buying a mosquito net for the nighttime/daytime napping and buying good quality long-sleeved clothing to reduce exposed skin. Clothes can be impregnated with repellent for extra protection.

  7. Money. In some remote countries, this can only be exchanged in the country and cannot be taken out so research this in advance. Avoid frequent transactions at ATMs as this occurs a charge. Research an appropriate currency exchange before you go. Ask for currency in smaller notes as it is often tricky to split large notes in more remote areas. 

  8. First Aid Kit. Accessing medical care abroad is not always easy especially in remote areas, so having a first aid kit can help you manage basic health problems.

  9. Ask a local. Nothing beats local knowledge and advice on where to eat, how much to pay for things and safest routes/ways to travel. If you know someone who has been there before, even better!

  10. Travel insurance. Make sure this is the correct type of insurance for your trip rather than purchasing one which comes with a flight. Does it cover work abroad? Is there medical assistance? Always take copies of this with you and don't forget to let the insurance company know asap if something goes wrong as it might affect what documents you need to get signed before you return home in order for a claim to be accepted. 

  11. Research a local hospital. Working with animals is hazardous. In the event of an animal bite in a rabies endemic area, you still require two further post-exposure vaccines, so it is helpful to know where to go in advance should you need medical attention.

  12. Local Sim Card. Nowadays, there are all sorts of deals with mobile phone companies which allow you to use your mobile abroad cheaply, however, if this is not an option I try to buy a local sim card on arrival and put this in an old phone. This allows hassle-free and cheap contact within the country.

  13. Essential equipment: The head-torch. This is so useful for extra visualisation when operating, but also when working in areas where a power cut is a risk. A veterinary drug formulary (be this a real one/on your phone) always comes in handy when using medications for animals you are not used to using. 











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I am a vet with a passion for travel, skill sharing and learning.