How to Plan a Trip Around the World: Staying Safe and Healthy

It may seem like I am tempting fate, but I’m honestly not very concerned about safety and health during this trip. The world simply isn’t a scary place for us. It’s exciting and foreign and deliciously uncomfortable at times, but it’s not something to be feared.

That said, we aren’t fools. People get hurt at political demonstrations. Dark alleys in the dead of night are often dangerous, no matter the country or neighborhood. And sketchy street food can certainly ruin a good time.

So, here are the Around the World Safety and Health Tips from a couple of people who enjoy diving with sharks.


Get travel insurance. For most shorter adventures, we skip this bit and rely on activity-related coverage like DAN insurance when we scuba dive and the standard coverage granted by our credit cards for car rentals and hotel cancelations.

But this trip is different. We are currently in good health, but an abscessed tooth or a kidney stone would need immediate attention and could very easily cause us to incur unexpected medical bills or, even worse, miss flights!


Nothing like a kidney stone on vacation

As with all insurance stuff, the coverage cost varies greatly due to factors like age and pre-existing conditions. But with travel insurance, you also need to consider the length and cost of the trip, the countries to be visited, and the amount of coverage you need for things like emergencies. Most sites recommend a minimum of $100,000 USD emergency evacuation and repatriation coverage, but certain activities like travel to Antarctica require a minimum of $200,000 USD!

The top four recommended companies for 2018 are Travelex, John Hancock, IMG, and Allianz, with each touting its own particular area of specialty (cruises, adventure travel, long trips, etc.). And, to be honest, we are still shopping for our coverage on this trip. So, if you have a favorite, we would love to hear your recommendation!

Get vaccinated. I know there is a lot of pushback concerning the safety and reliability of vaccinations these days. But diseases around the world are nothing to scoff at. Food-borne, mosquito-borne, or air-borne illness could make this trip your last one. Ever.


Proof of Yellow Fever vaccination is required for several countries. If you arrive without that medical proof, you will be denied entry!

The question remains, which vaccinations should I get? And the answer all depends on the areas to which you will be traveling. A comprehensive list of all countries along with required and recommended vaccinations can be downloaded here.

But these are the standard ones that every long-term traveler should consider:

  • The full battery of Hepatitis is always a good idea, and it means you’re essentially immune for life.
  • A polio booster, should you need it.
  • Make sure you’re up to date on your MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella).
  • Make sure you’re up to date on your TDP (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis).
  • Additionally, you will need Yellow Fever, Japanese Encephalitis, Meningococcal Meningitis, and/or Typhoid Fever if you travel to Central Africa, Amazonian South America, and certain parts of India and Asia.
  • Oh, and Rabies. You will need a Rabies vaccination if you plan on doing some spelunking, hanging out with wildlife, or if you just want to pet the stray dogs.

So, that’s only 11 shots. Come on, you can do it! Just pretend you’re joining the military.

Plan for your prescriptions and other medications. If you are currently taking any health-related drug on a regular basis, you will need to ensure that can continue during the trip. And that requires a bit of coordination between you, your doctor, and your pharmacy.

Since most prescriptions are good for only a 30- or 90-day supply, you will need to get your doctor to write extra scripts ahead of time. But, due to insurance flags, the pharmacy can typically only fill one of each type of script per 24 hours.

So, for instance, if I take a blood-pressure pill once a day, and my doctor writes me a 90-day script, I will need him to write four scripts about a week before I leave. The pharmacy will then be able to fill the prescription once a day during that week, for a total of 360 days of coverage.

And finally, it is critical to become aware of the drug laws in every country you will visit. In certain countries, any narcotics or opioids will land you in serious trouble, even if they are prescribed and clearly carried in a pharmacy bottle.

Moreover, some countries prohibit the transport of drugs we easily buy over the counter in America. Diphenhydramine, for example, is a banned substance in Zambia. So ditch your Benadryl before you get to customs, or you could be facing interrogation and detention. Two things that make travel less than stellar.

If you need to review any of the previous topic in this series:

Next up — How to Plan a Trip Around the World: How to Pack for the Entire World