Highbrook Blog

Check out the Highbrook blog to get the latest information about our services, healthcare tips and much more.

Top travel Clinic tips for visiting Friends and relatives (VFR travel)

Sara Jayne Pietersen By: November 11, 2022
Overseas Travel clinic vaccinations and meds | Friends relatives VFR travel

Like our travel clinic team members, you will be itching to travel again to visit friends and relatives overseas (VFR travel). Maybe you’ve already been off to familiar holiday spots this year! If so, you’ll know it’s easy to become unwell while travelling.

So, before leaving home, visit us to get advice from our friendly travel doctors. They can give accurate advice on requirements for vaccinations, travel meds and managing illness while you are overseas. Dr Sara Jayne Pietersen shares her travel health tips, with a focus on VFR travel (visiting family and relatives).

5 top reasons to visit our travel clinic before heading abroad 

Even the most seasoned travellers have asked us for tips on travelling abroad since Covid. Previously, we’ve had to think about Pre-departure testing. While those rules have been relaxed, travel still needs more thought than before. As a result, we all feel a little more cautious. So, expert health advice will set us up for safe and happy travel.  

  1. Our seasoned travel clinic doctors have up-to-the-minute information on the overseas travel vaccinations required for your destination. Also, we monitor updates on disease outbreaks.
  2. Importantly, we advise on mosquito avoidance. Malaria must be taken seriously. Protect your family by using effective and safe bug repellents and prescribing travel meds like appropriate anti-malarial pills. These may change by region.
  3. Help you to put together a well-equipped travel kit, including prescribed travel meds. These might include Pills to control vomiting and diarrhoea, Malaria tablets and altitude sickness medication.
  4. For Chronic condition care, like Diabetes, our doctors can help. They give helpful tips, like how much insulin you need to carry to cover your travel dates. They’ll discuss how to store Insulin in an insulated cooler bag. Furthermore, they can provide you with a doctor’s letter to allow safe transit of supplies like needles and syringes and devices like continuous glucose monitors or insulin pumps.
  5. Finally, understandably, Covid-19 is still a part of our lives. When travelling, we may be more at risk of contracting it. So, let us give you the latest advice on Covid vaccinations, any travel testing which may be required and what to do if you are unlucky enough to get Covid while overseas.

Why might travel overseas to see friends and relatives (VFR travel) expose you to a greater risk of illness?

Funnily enough, the people we’ve seen in the clinic following a trip abroad tend to be those who have returned to somewhere you have lived before.

Usually, the purpose of the journey is to visit friends or relatives. This group of travellers, often referred to as VFR travellers, makes up almost 70% of people who arrive home with an illness picked up overseas. 

  • The reasons for this are, first and foremost, that when you travel to somewhere familiar, you are less likely to perceive it as risky. Therefore VFR travellers sometimes don’t think to check out the overseas travel vaccination requirements before visiting friends or relatives. It seems less necessary to prepare to take bug spray or bed nets when going home or to a familiar place.
  • Travellers staying with friends or relatives are at greater risk of illness than tourists. This is because you are mixing more closely with local people. Furthermore, you are staying in local housing rather than commercial hotel accommodation. Also, you usually remain longer than a tourist visiting an area.
  • Commonly, you may need to realise that the immunity you built up to diseases when living in the area will be less effective. Therefore, vaccinations against things like Hepatitis A  and typhoid are essential, especially when travelling with children. These diseases are much more common in Asia, South America and Africa.
  • Also, check that your children are up to date with their scheduled childhood immunisations.
  • Remember to drink bottled water if the local water supply is not safe. Any immunity you had in the past will be far less if you have been away for some time. Another good tip is to use hand sanitiser before eating. 
  • If you are visiting an area where malaria is common, remember to use a recommended bug repellent, which is both effective and safe.
  • Also, our travel doctors can prescribe appropriate drugs against malaria.

Top tips for a comprehensive travel kit and medical advice on how to travel safely 

  1. Travel insurance: We always advise travellers to have adequate medical insurance in their travel policy.
  2. Regular medications: Ensure that you have more of your regularly prescribed medications and inhalers to allow for any delay in your travel. Carry a copy of your prescription and keep medicines in their original packaging.
  3. Travel with a Doctor’s letter if you need to carry equipment to monitor or treat conditions like Diabetes
  4. Knowing how to travel safely: Our experienced travel doctors can give you the necessary information to safely manage your chronic health conditions. Ask us for tips on transporting your medications at the right temperature and understanding how different climates and altitudes may affect any long-term conditions and the efficiency of your medicine.
  5.  If you need an overseas travel vaccination, ideally see us 6 – 8 weeks before you travel to allow for follow up shots. 
Travel Medicine Doctor Sara Jayne Pietersen | Travel clinic for advice on meds

Our Recommended Must-pack Travel meds include:

  • Insect repellent: Be sure to use an EPA-recommended product which contains at least 20% DEET to protect against bug bites. Throw in some antihistamine cream like Anthisan to stop the itch on any bites.
  • Nausea & Vomiting meds: Ask our travel doctor to prescribe Anti-nausea pills to stop vomiting. They can also help with motion sickness.
  • Buy medication for diarrhoea over the counter at your pharmacy or ask for a  prescription.
  • Rehydration sachets: If you do succumb to vomiting or diarrhoea, keep up fluid intake. Adding rehydration powder will help stabilise electrolytes.
  • Sunblock: ensure you’ve packed a sunscreen that meets the NZ standards of SPF and broad-spectrum requirements. Not all sunscreens are made alike! A helpful resource is the Consumer Magazine sunscreen test review.

If required, we can help you to have the details of a doctor to contact at your destination if your condition requires monitoring. A great resource is the CDC website which gives travellers advice on VFR travel diseases and regional news. Meanwhile, if you are a returning  from Friends and relatives VFR travel and feel unwell, do make an appointment.

Book an appointment to see a travel clinic GP using the Patient Portal or call our Customer Care team. When booking an overseas travel vaccination allow for 15 minutes of waiting time following your shots. We like to ensure you have no reactions while you are in the clinic.

More blog posts

New Zealand Summer

Summer Wellness Guide: Prioritising your Health & Wellbeing

Avatar By: November 14, 2023

As we approach the summer break, the team at Highbrook Medical encourage you to prioritise your health and safety amidst ...

Read more
Cervical Smear

Navigating Cervical Health: Your Guide to HPV Self-Screening in New Zealand

Colleen Bowring By: November 10, 2023

Cervical screening has changed in New Zealand. An easier ‘self-test’ has been introduced to make your screenings quicker and less ...

Read more
Preventing Injuries | Highbrook Medical

Top Tips for preventing injuries this winter sports season

Richard Chong By: June 7, 2023

As Kiwis, sport is in our DNA! Whether it’s rugby, football, hockey, running, swimming or everything in between, we love ...

Read more