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Healthy Travel

Notre Dame offers many opportunities to study abroad, and the following precautions will help ensure that you have a healthy and safe experience.

Health Insurance

It is imperative that you have sufficient health and accident insurance for the entire period you will be traveling. Research the travel provisions of your current insurance and make sure you understand both the coverage and the procedures to follow if something should occur.

If your existing insurance doesn't cover your travel, or if you would like supplemental coverage (Notre Dame recommends that you add evacuation and repatriation to your existing policy if it does not cover these items), you can arrange a policy for your trip. Besides health insurance, you should consider insurance for lost baggage, stolen property and trip cancellation/interruption.

Health Needs

When traveling abroad, you should bring your own basic drug store supplies, such as motion sickness medication, allergy medicine, laxatives, antacids, aspirin substitute, bandages, Imodium, sunscreen and sunburn medication, antibacterial and anti-fungal/anti-itch creams, small packages of tissues, decongestants and antiseptics. Make sure any prescription drugs are in their labeled bottles, and carry a copy of the written prescription. Also remember a list of the medication's generic names in case your prescription runs out.

If you have medical problems such as diabetes, bring along a health record that includes your health provider's name and address and a summary of your medical history. It is strongly recommended that you inform your study abroad program of any existing health problems. In an emergency situation, it is crucial that this information is available.

Some countries require or recommend vaccination certificates or other personal health information. If you would like more information, please contact the Student Health Center at 410-617-5055 or see the following Web sites:

Vaccines Available

The following vaccines are regularly stocked at the Student Health Center:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Tetanus
  • Diphtheria Toxid
  • Chickenpox Vaccine
  • Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) Vaccine
  • Influenza Vaccine
  • Meningococcal (Meningitis) Vaccine
  • Tuberculosis skin tests

Emergency Care

Make sure you know how to locate English-speaking physicians in the countries you plan to visit. The International Association for Medical Assistance (IAMAT) has information about English-speaking physicians around the world, as well as information about health precautions you may need to take.

Medical & Dental Examinations

Before leaving the U.S., have a complete physical examination with your personal health care provider. Inform your health care provider of your plans to travel abroad before you make an appointment so that he or she can provide you with current health information and medical recommendations for your destination.

Have your teeth cleaned, examined and, if necessary, repaired before you leave. If you wear glasses, take along an extra pair. If you wear contact lenses, you should take a pair of eyeglasses along in the event that you lose or damage a contact or if your eyes are irritated by dust, pollen, etc.

Safety Tips

  • Do not leave your bags or belongings unattended at any time.
  • Do not agree to carry or look after packages or suitcases for anyone.
  • Make sure no one puts anything in your luggage.
  • Never keep all of your documents in one place. Carry your passport, credit cards and money in a waist belt or in a neck wallet kept under your clothes at all times.
  • If you find yourself in an uncomfortable environment, try to stay calm and act like you know what you are doing and where you are going.
  • It is important to use caution when traveling alone. Women especially should not walk alone at night. Try to find an escort.
  • Keep the on-site program informed as to your whereabouts. You should let the on-site director or your host family know of all of your traveling plans. You should call your parents as well to inform them where you are traveling.
  • Have sufficient funds or credit cards on hand to buy emergency items such as train or airline tickets.
  • Before leaving on your trip, make two sets of copies of all your important documents. Take a set with you, but be sure to keep it separate from the actual documents. Leave one set with your parents. If the worst case occurs, having access to all of these items will facilitate replacement. Make sure you get a police report to document losses.
  • Avoid illegal drugs. You are subject to the laws of the country in which you are traveling. There is little, if anything, the U.S. Embassy can do on your behalf in these cases. The laws in many countries are more severe than those at home.
  • Avoid demonstrations, especially in politically volatile countries.
  • Contact the State Department to receive a travel advisory report. Sometimes it is aware of a potential problem before anyone else knows about it.
  • Be as inconspicuous in dress and demeanor as possible. Wear moderate colors and conservative clothing. Avoid American logos on your belongings and clothing.
  • Do not give your host family's telephone number or address to anyone.
  • Use well-traveled and well-known routes whenever possible.
  • Travelers should be aware of the potential for violence-related injuries. Risk for assault or terrorist attack varies from country to country. Heed advice from residents and tour guides about areas to be avoided, going out at night, and going out alone. Do not fight attackers. If confronted, give up your valuables. For more information, contact the U.S. Department of State, Overseas Citizens Emergency Center, at 202-501-4444.