Newswise — The suitcase is laid out. The perfect outfits have been chosen and the list of what not to forget has been made. You've been anxiously awaiting this trip, but more than sunscreen will be needed to help ensure your vacation is a time of relaxation and not frustration.

"The most important thing to consider when planning a trip is what health risks exist at your destination(s)," said Dr. Bert Lopansri, medical director of the Loyola University Health System International Medicine and Traveler's Immunization Clinic.

"At the Loyola Traveler' s clinic, we provide comprehensive pre-travel service which includes identification of health risks at each stop of a traveler's itinerary and a personalized plan to reduce risks."

Even when going on a cruise or to resorts travelers need to stay aware of their surroundings and possible hazards.

"Just because it says resort or five-star hotel doesn't mean it's safe," said Laura Gonzalez, RN. "You still need to watch what you eat, protect against insect bites and don't go out at night alone."

Good hygiene and hand washing is critical when traveling. The clinic recommends packing sanitizing wipes, not the gel, so you can wipe eating utensils as well as your hands. The clinic staff also cautions travelers to stay away from buffets. Though precautions need to be taken to avoid illness from infectious diseases, according to Lopansri complications from pre-existing conditions and injury abroad are also health risks for travelers.

"Education is so important when traveling overseas," said Janice Duffy, RN. "Our expertise in immunizations, precautions and preparations for each location will help you know exactly what you need."

To get you started, the Loyola International Medicine and Traveler's Clinic offers 10 tips for overseas travel.1. Plan for a healthy trip. Consult with your physician and dentist for routine care and medicine supplies, and visit the Loyola Traveler's Clinic for an assessment of health risks abroad and an individualized plan of care which may include vaccines and medicines2. Prepare for jet lag and high altitude destinations, and stay hydrated and rested3. Protect yourself from insect and animal bites4. Be careful what you drink. In developing nations avoid drinking tap and water and having ice cubes in your beverages5. Be careful what you eat. Make sure meats and vegetables are thoroughly cooked6. If steps 4 and 5 fail, manage diarrhea with fluids, anti-motility agents and, if needed, antibiotics7. Avoid dangerous personal activities including risky sexual behavior, getting tattoos, using drugs and having acupuncture8. In tropical destinations avoid swimming in fresh water and walking barefoot9. Be smart with your safety. Use alcohol in moderation, leave the expensive items at home, avoid traveling alone at night and be careful with your mode of transportation10. Be sensitive to the culture(s) you visit "Remember that preventative measures reduce the risk of injury and illness, but doesn't eliminate it," said Lopansri. "Fever after return from the tropics requires immediate medical attention."

Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, Loyola University Health System is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb hospital campus and 25 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus, Loyola University Hospital, is a 570 licensed bed facility. It houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 250-bed community hospital, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness Center and the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Care Center.

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