Resource Series 6: Physical Health Abroad



One of the most valuable things you have is your health. It is important to protect it while you are abroad. You not only want to return safe and sound, but you also want to have the most enjoyable experience possible. This post will focus on physical health specifically. Here are a few things to consider:


It is very important to stay hydrated, but water quality varies from area to area. Be cautious about the water. When in doubt, you should drink bottled water. Even be wary about the ice in cold beverages. There are many diseases that can be transmitted via dirty water.

Eliminate Risky Behaviors

This is pretty self-explanatory, but avoid situations that put your health at risk. Practical ways to do this include avoiding travel alone and/or at night, abstaining from casual/unprotected sexual encounters, and doing exceptional risky things like cliff jumping.

Act Wisely

In a different environment, you should make sure all of your bases are covered. Many travelers can get sick because of foods and bugs bites. Do not let yourself fall prey to the same issues. Avoid buying street food, raw items or unsealed foods. Make sure to bring bug spray and carry your insurance card with you in case of emergencies.

Learn Your Destination

Another key to protecting and maintaining health is to prepare for where you are going. You cannot properly do this without learning about your country, its environment and its potential risks.

Take Medicine

Make sure to use your prescription drugs and other medicines to help you if you do fall ill. Pepto Bismol and Advil are always a good idea. It is also smart to bring a small first aid kit for injuries. Be sure to get immunizations that are appropriate to your region.

Have Patience

It will take time to get accustomed to a new place. Jet lag, and a new environment play factors in that. Don’t overexert yourself. Know your limits and stay safe.

Extra Considerations:

  • Do some research about the hospitals near your destination. If you fall ill, you want to be sure you receive quality care. See this directory to help find a doctor right for you.
  • Your spiritual and mental health are connected to your physical health. Please make sure to take care of yourself in these areas as well. Find ways to de-stress and adjust to the new culture.
  • Visit the State Department’s website for more tips on safe travel.
  • Look at the posting from the CDC for updates and warnings about your destination country.

The Study Abroad Pre-Departure Manual gives a few more details about these guidelines. Click here for access.

We at the Study Abroad Office are here for you if you have any questions on concerns. We look forward to hearing from you!

Study Abroad Office–Psychology Building Room 408