Traveling Safely to Other Countries: Which Drugs and Travel Vaccines Do You Need?

March 1, 2023

Traveling to exotic parts of the world, while exciting, can also be pretty risky for your health. That’s precisely why you need to be well-prepared before embarking on your travels abroad. What does that include? Well, for starters, you need to understand the potential health risks and learn how you can mitigate them. That is where travel vaccines and drugs come into play.

Immunization and obtaining the proper medications can be life-saving when traveling to distant countries. Because this is a crucial step, and we know it can be overwhelming, we’re here to help. If you’re planning a vacation outside of Canada, let us tell you about medications and vaccines that will ensure a safe and healthy trip. Keep reading to learn how you can protect yourself.

Common Travel Vaccines

First and foremost, let’s talk about travel vaccines. Proper immunization is imperative when visiting remote areas or places with a high risk of serious, easily transmitted, and sometimes even fatal illnesses. These are the four most common travel-related vaccines that will keep you safe during international travel. 

  • Hepatitis A/B: These vaccines protect against two types of viral hepatitis that can be transmitted through contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A and B are serious illnesses that can cause long-term liver damage, so getting vaccinated before traveling to areas with poor sanitation or endemic areas is key.
  • Typhoid: This is a bacterial infection spread through contaminated food and water. It can cause fever, diarrhea, and other symptoms. The typhoid vaccine is recommended for travelers visiting areas with poor hygiene conditions or where outbreaks are common.
  • Yellow fever: This viral disease is transmitted by mosquitoes and can lead to serious illness or death. The yellow fever vaccine is required for entry to some countries in Africa and South America, and is also recommended when traveling to areas with a high disease risk.
  • Rabies: This viral disease is spread through the bite of an infected animal, such as a dog or bat. The rabies vaccine is recommended for travelers at risk of animal bites or scratches, especially those planning to spend time outdoors or working with animals.

Apart from these travel-related vaccines, you should make sure you have all your routine vaccinations, no matter where you’re jetting off to. 

  • Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTaP) vaccine
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine
  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine
  • Meningococcal vaccine
  • Polio vaccine
  • Pneumococcal vaccine
  • Rotavirus vaccine
  • Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine

Keep in mind that, whenever you’re traveling abroad, getting flu shots is also recommended. 

Diseases Preventable with Medication

Malaria and Other Preventable Diseases

Malaria is one of the most dangerous diseases travelers face when visiting tropical and subtropical regions. It’s caused by the mosquito-borne parasite Plasmodium, which infects red blood cells in humans. The most common symptom of malaria is fever and chills, but it can also cause headaches, body pain, nausea, and other serious symptoms. To prevent it, you need to take antimalarial medication for the duration of the trip.

In addition to malaria, there are several other common diseases that can be prevented with proper medication. These include:

  • typhoid fever
  • traveler’s diarrhea
  • dengue fever and
  • leishmaniasis. 

Altitude Sickness Medication

Altitude sickness or acute mountain sickness (AMS) occurs when you ascend to high altitudes too quickly before the body can acclimate to the changes in air pressure and oxygen levels. Altitude sickness is most common at elevations above 8,000 feet (2,400 meters) but can occur at lower elevations in some individuals.

Altitude sickness can cause symptoms such as headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, and difficulty sleeping. In more severe cases, altitude sickness can progress to high altitude cerebral edema (HACE) or high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), which can be life-threatening. 

Depending on your destination, proper medication might be necessary. Here are some travel destinations where altitude sickness medication could come in handy: 

  • Ecuador – the capital of Ecuador, Quito, is located at an altitude of 9,350 feet (2,850 meters).
  • Peru – popular destinations at high altitudes include Cusco, Machu Picchu, and Lake Titicaca.
  • Nepal – trekking routes, such as the Everest Base Camp Trek and the Annapurna Circuit Trek, reach altitudes above 10,000 feet (3,000 meters).
  • Tibet – Lhasa, the capital city, is located at an altitude of 12,000 feet (3,700 meters).
  • Bolivia – La Paz is the highest capital city in the world, at an altitude of 11,975 feet (3,650 meters).

Vaccines and Medications for Specific Countries or Regions

group of people at the airport

Airport, travel and people legs in queue for international vacation, holiday or immigration. Line, .

In order to help you make sure you’re getting the right immunization before your trip, we want to point out the recommended vaccines and medicine for specific locations. Let’s dive in.


A trip to India is an out-of-this-world experience, but if you want to stay healthy and safe, it’s important to take care of your health checks and immunization before boarding the flight. When it comes to India travel vaccines and drugs, here are some recommendations by the Public Health Agency of Canada: