Health Information for Travelers

Each year, Harvard students, faculty, and staff travel internationally, and it is important to take steps to prepare for your trip. The information below will help you to be proactive, prepared, and protected when it comes to your health — and the health of others — while you are traveling.

Take steps to anticipate new information about communicable diseases or possible travel restrictions that could be in effect or arise during your trip.

  • Learn about your destination: The CDC and WHO offer up-to-date recommendations and travel alerts. The U.S. State Department also lists information regarding any travel limitations. Harvard Travel Assist provides medical and security advice and referrals and emergency evacuation services to eligible Harvard travelers abroad.
  • See your health care provider before you travel: Many countries recommend or require that travel vaccinations be administered up to 2-4 weeks before you depart in order to be effective. For instance, if you are traveling to an area that is endemic for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis and will be engaging in activities where you could be exposed to TB, your clinician may recommend a baseline tuberculosis skin test prior to your departure.
  • Think about your health status: If you are beginning to feel sick, public health authorities strongly advise that you stay away from class or work in an effort to not spread infections to others. Travelers with other serious illnesses or special health needs such as pregnancy, disabilities, or serious chronic conditions, may also need additional care before traveling.
You may not be able to prevent every illness or injury, but you can plan ahead to be able to deal with them.

  • Ensure personal hygiene: Bring along soap and alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Cover your mouth when you cough and try not to touch your face or eyes after coughing or sneezing.
  • Share important information about your trip: Register your travel itinerary and contact information in the Harvard Travel Registry to make it easier to locate you and provide emergency assistance.
  • Medication planning: Some medications routinely prescribed in the U.S. may be more heavily regulated in other countries. Make sure you have any prescription medication in its original prescription bottle. Bring appropriate documentation from your physician describing your condition, the necessity of your medication, and its generic name. Notify your pharmacy and health plan if you will be traveling for more than three months and require a greater than three-month supply of medication. You may need a travel waiver.
  • Pack smart:
    o Bring your health insurance card and related information from the health plan about how to arrange for coverage in the county you are visiting
    o Pack basic first aid supplies, a thermometer, acetaminophen, etc.
    o Bring your vaccination record and any pertinent medical history
  • Know what to do if you become sick or injured on your trip:
    o Seek medical care as soon as possible
    o Contact Harvard Travel Assist if you have an emergency (details below)
    o Contact your health insurance plan to arrange for authorization and payment/coverage of services
It is important to practice healthy behaviors during your trip and after you return home. It is your responsibility to keep abreast of changing developments through the CDC, WHO, or U.S. State Department websites.

  • Stay informed: Be mindful of travel alerts and follow CDC and WHO guidelines for personal protection should there be a local or international infectious disease outbreak.
  • Use common sense in order to stay healthy: Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based cleaners, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, which can introduce germs.
  • Be careful about food and water: Many illnesses can be acquired by eating foods to which your system is not accustomed. Travelers should be advised to select food with care. All raw food, no matter its location, is subject to contamination.
  • Try not to take risks with your health and safety: If you are feeling ill when you come home, see your primary health provider immediately and mention your travel history. If you get sick while abroad, contact Harvard Travel Assist and ask for assistance.
  • Review your health insurance coverage for care obtained outside of the U.S.
    o Students with the HUSHP Student Health Insurance Plan are covered for medical emergencies and urgent care while traveling. All other covered services will be paid at the out-of-network rate.
    o Students who waived the HUSHP Student Health Insurance Plan should contact their own insurance company to verify how their coverage works outside of the U.S.
    o HUGHP members are covered for medical emergencies and urgent care while traveling. HUGHP POS members can be seen for other services, but out-of-network rates apply.

You may be required to pay out-of-pocket for your care and submit for reimbursement from your insurance plan. Contact your plan to confirm coverage and details.


HUGHP and HUSHP members should contact BlueCard Worldwide to coordinate their care and HUGHP/HUSHP Member Services at 617-495-2008 or for additional information. If you are not a member of HUGHP or HUSHP, you should contact your insurance provider for details and coverage information.

Harvard Travel Tools provides useful information for planning a safe trip and includes links to important resources such as Harvard Travel Assist. Visit the Harvard Travel Tools website for more information and to complete the recommended pre-departure steps, including registering your trip in the Harvard Travel Registry. Entering your travel and contact information in the Registry will help Harvard Travel Assist locate you and provide assistance in an emergency.