Travel Health Apps Can Help You Better Prepare for Overseas Flights

By ALPA Staff

International travel continues to rebound despite the presence of new strains of the COVID-19 virus, with numerous national directives and policies to navigate depending upon where you need to go. In North America, the United States has dropped its mask mandates for airliners and airports, but these rules remain in effect for Canada.

To help you stay informed about any potential overseas health concerns as well as any corresponding requirements, various travel health mobile apps for smartphones and tablets are available for use. While ALPA doesn’t recommend or endorse specific apps, using these kinds of tools can help you better anticipate what you may encounter once you reach your destination.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) TravWell app lets you view “destination-specific vaccine recommendations, a checklist of what you need to do to prepare for travel, and a customizable healthy travel packing list.” This resource allows you to personalize your trip information by storing travel documents as well as information about your medications and immunizations.

You can set reminders of when to take your medications, which can be particularly helpful when crossing multiple time zones. The app also gives you access to the latest CDC-issued travel health notices, U.S. State Department alerts, and emergency phone numbers.

In addition, the CDC has an app called the CDC Yellow Book. While this tool is primarily intended for physicians, it includes current travel health guidelines such as vaccine recommendations, destination-specific health guidance, and easy-to-reference maps, tables, and charts.

The World Health Organization (WHO), the specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health, also offers an app—WHO Info—with the latest news and updates on infectious disease outbreaks around the globe.

All travelers flying into Canada must use the ArriveCAN website or mobile app unless exempted from this requirement due to an accessibility issue. You’ll need to provide proof of your vaccination information, including which vaccine(s) you received, the country the shots were administered in, and the date you received them.

From the private sector, one of the more popular travel health apps is My Travel Health, available for a nominal fee. This resource is based on content licensed from the Mayo Clinic as well as data obtained from the U.S. State Department and the CDC. The app helps travelers “safeguard their health before, during, and after travel” by offering guidance for preventing illnesses and handling them when they occur.

My Travel Health enables users to register for the U.S. State Department Enrollment Program to receive in-country security alerts, including information about disease outbreaks, natural disasters, and other catastrophic events that can impact your safety. You can view information about more than 200 destinations/countries, and the app identifies any specific immunizations recommended or required for each location.

In addition, My Travel Health offers sections for storing passport, visa, and driver’s license information. You can save doctor contact details, a list of any allergies you have, doses and the frequencies of medications you take, and health insurance information. This tool also features recommendations for treating common travel-related illnesses, such as travelers’ diarrhea, malaria, respiratory infections, blood clots, and heat exhaustion. And much of the information is stored directly in the app once it’s been downloaded, so you don’t need immediate Internet access to recall it.

Specialty apps include Timeshifter’s Jet Lag, which applies neuroscience research about sleep and circadian rhythms to help improve your rest when traveling. For a small fee, this tool offers “personalized recommendations for each traveler, taking into consideration your age, gender, and normal sleep patterns—as well as specifics about your trip and travel plans.”

Do some research: look at the various options, read users’ reviews, and decide for yourself which mobile app best suits your needs. These and other travel health apps are available for both iOS and Android users.

Have Questions?

ALPA members with questions about general health issues and traveling internationally are encouraged to contact the Aviation Medicine Advisory Service, ALPA’s Aeromedical Office. Call 303-341-4435, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. mountain time, to speak with a physician about approved treatments and medical certification.

This article was originally published in the May 2022 issue of Air Line Pilot.

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