You need to start your health planning early as many vaccinations work best if given three months before travel.
Overseas travel is exciting. There are some risks, but if you follow the old saying "hope for the best but plan for the worst" you won't go too far wrong.
We have dealth with the worst - we have had patients return with diseases like dengue fever and malaria, with stds like gonorrhoea and hepatitis. We have had patients who have had their medications confiscated, and we have seen people break bones and have serious accidents or illnesses. It does happen.
Things to think about before you travel:
1) do you have any ongoing health issues?- if so you will need adequate supplies of your medications, a letter for customs, a plan in case your luggage goes missing and you lose medication, and a plan if your medication requires adjustment when your diet changes - like insulin, or warfarin.
2) Do you have insurance? DO NOT TRAVEL OVERSEAS WITHOUT INSURANCE. Make sure you have revealed any pre existing conditions, as the insurers will not pay if this is not done.
3) What are the health risks in the country you are going to? This varies from place to place and we will provide specific advice. Many countries have diseases that are uncommon here - like hepatitis A, typhoid and malaria- and you will need vaccinations before you go.
4) Are you going to do anything risky? Whether it is getting on a motor bike in Bali or sleeping with that exotic backpacker you should plan for and think about the risks you might take. Some risks can be reduced by good planning - eg taking condoms, and some risks are not obvious - like swimming in fresh water in parts of Africa, so to stay healthy you need to research and make plans.
5) What should you have in a first aid kit? This will vary depending on your destination and your activities.
SMART TRAVELLER is the official government site and has advice about present political and security situations as well as health. It is excellent.
The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta also has comprehensive information. It is an American site and is interesting to compare to ours. Good lists to think about for first aid kits.