Skip to contentSkip to navigation

Health A to Z  —  7 minutes

Planning a trip with your health and safety in mind

February 12th, 2024
Biron Team
Biron Team

For many of us, winter is a time when we want to escape the cold and travel to warmer climes. But travel, whether to a country where you have never set foot or have visited many times, inevitably comes with certain hazards, especially in these post-pandemic times. From security risks to post-travel blues to travellers’diarrhea, being well prepared can save you loads of trouble and help you get the most out of your journey.

planning trip health and security

Local safety and security conditions

Even if you are travelling to a country you know well, it is always a good idea to check out the latest Government of Canada travel advisories, or follow your travel agent’s recommendations. Doing so will ensure that you have the most up-to-date and reliable information on safety and security conditions at your destination.

This up-to-date advice for each country in the world recommends whether you should exercise a normal or high degree of caution, or avoid altogether, depending on the situation.

In addition to this high-level information, you should take precautions for your health, including getting the recommended vaccinations. Travelling means exposing yourself to a variety of health risks, often unknown and sometimes dangerous, including:

  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Yellow fever
  • Dengue fever
  • Marburg virus disease

In addition, many viruses, bacteria and amoebas are responsible for widespread cases of travellers’ diarrhea, also called “turista.”

Travel vaccination

Many travel-related illnesses can be prevented through vaccination. You can visit your local travel health clinic to find out which vaccines are available or required, depending on your destination. Keep in mind that your immune system needs a few weeks – and in some cases a second dose – to ensure full protection. For this reason, we recommend you contact your healthcare professional at least six weeks before departure.

While no vaccine ever provides 100% protection – in some cases it can be under 50% – even a moderate level of protection against a disease that can ruin your vacation, or even seriously harm your health, is always preferable.

For an extra-safe vacation, remember to take basic precautions after arriving at your destination. These include eating at places you trust and keeping an eye on how your food is prepared, to make sure that hygiene is up to your standard. Fully cooked foods and fruit that you peel are the safest.

Finally, even if local people drink water from the tap, you should drink bottled water only.

Is traveller’s diarrhea inevitable?

Travellers’ diarrhea, or “turista,” strikes more than half of all visitors to sun destinations, whether from developed or developing nations.

Most cases of travellers’ diarrhea happen in the first two weeks of a trip and last less than a week without need for treatment. This infection occurs through eating and drinking food and beverages contaminated with fecal matter. It spreads easily from person to person.

Travellers’ diarrhea usually clears up on its own within three to seven days in adults and children [1]. However, certain signs or symptoms may last longer and be more severe if they are caused by something other than a common bacterium. In this case, you may need prescription medication to help you recover [2].

How do I tell if my traveller’s diarrhea is serious?

If symptoms last more than a week [3] or your condition worsens, you should seek medical attention immediately in these situations:

  • Dehydration
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Bloody or black stools
  • Fever over 39 °C

A part of the diagnostic process involves determining whether an uncommon bacteria or parasite is present in the body. Most diagnostic sessions focus on identifying fecal bacteria or parasites.

There are many viruses that cause diarrhea, but they are traditionally very difficult to identify. Usually, stool cultures used to identify bacteria or parasites are labour-intensive and must be repeated three times.

New analysis techniques, based on identifying genetic material (DNA and RNA) from the microorganism responsible for the infection, can provide a definitive result within one day, using a single stool sample. This type of test allows for the identification of 22 targeted pathogens, including bacteria, viruses and four parasites [4].

After that, the treatment for travellers’ diarrhea is based on relieving the symptoms by taking medication to slow intestinal transit (e.g. loperamide, bismuth subsalicylate), preventing dehydration, avoiding foods that make diarrhea worse (dairy products, caffeine, etc.), as well as taking antibiotics.

Specific anthelmintic (equivalent to a dewormer) and antiparasitic agents can combat parasitic and amoebic infections.

Coping with post-travel blues

Even if your vacation was very enjoyable (and perhaps even more so in this case), you may still experience mild depression after you return home.

Post-travel blues (In French) is a genuine ailment and a common consequence of returning home. Although it usually resolves within a few days, post-vacation depression tends to be more pronounced following long stays away.

It is accompanied by symptoms similar to those of seasonal depression,[5] such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Changes in appetite
  • Feelings of nostalgia
  • Trouble sleeping
  • General discomfort

When you need professional support, we're here to help.

We offer a range of services that can help your doctor make a quick and accurate diagnosis, and determine the right treatment for your health problems.

Do you have a medical prescription for one of these tests? Book an appointment online or call Biron Health Group’s customer service at 1-833-590-2712.

This revised edition reflects an updated version from the original version published on December 9, 2021, on our website. We have incorporated recent facts to offer you current and pertinent information.

  1. “Traveler’s Diarrhea” WebMD, 18 août 2021. (accessed in February 2024).
  2. “Traveler’s Diarrhea,” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, May 16, 2019,
  3. “Gastroenteritis (stomach flu),” Gouvernement du Québec, (accessed in February, 2024).
  4. “Microbiological stool analysis by PCR”, Biron – Glossary.
  5. “Is Post-vacation depression real?”, MedicalNewsToday. October 2022. (accessed in February, 2024).
Biron Team
Biron Team