This bit should probably be entitled “Future Proofing” because that is what we are trying to do here. The healthier and more in control you can stay, the better your first few months will be.

Cheat Sheet

  • Schedule and have any routine tests or treatment that would otherwise be due in the first 3-6 months of your assignment.
  • Order supplies of prescription medication for existing conditions.
  • Request prescriptions for medications necessary for leisure travel from your new home.
  • Stock up on preferred brands of personal care items that are not available in your host location.

 Your most important task is to get recommended immunizations. As part of Your Current Health, you should have a list of recommended / required  immunizations for your new location, and you may have been organized and already scheduled them. If not, now is the time to get on with it, as some of them need to be administered at specific time intervals. You will also find that many require boosters during your time away, so check to see whether those are readily available there, or if you need to take supplies with you. While many medications are available globally, some are not, and counterfeit drugs are a problem in some countries. If a medication is essential for your ongoing health, order enough supplies to last until you find a reputable source locally.

Please believe me when I say that once you arrive in your new location, you will have a huge list of things to get done, the pressure of a new work/life role, and not a great deal of help.  So make it easier on yourself; identify which check-ups, tests etc will be due within the first three to six months of your assignment, and get as many as possible done before you go. 

If you plan to do any traveling from your new location, investigate what medical precautions are required and get any immunizations, drugs and supplies from your doctors while you are getting all the essential stuff done. It’s a lot easier to drop in ‘and I’m planning on traveling to/will need/will not be able to get” when you are sitting in your hometown doctors office (or going through your company medical) than on a Friday afternoon when you are staring at a tropical diseases poster in an airport on your way to a weekend in Dubai..

Stock up on essentials. Here’s where it gets very individual, because what is essential to one person may seem ridiculous to another, but as we have no way of ever finding out what you listed, feel free to choose whatever you like.. The more extreme measures include first aid items, antibiotics and medications that you may need but may have difficulty getting overseas (including birth control – not all are distributed worldwide). Over the counter drugs such as Tylenol, Nurofen and Beechams (along with many, many others) etc are not universally available, so if you have any particular preferences or sensitivities, take extra with your household goods, and if you have allergies, you might want to take brands that you know are not problematic. My daughter, for instance, has an extreme sensitivity to some sun products, so we take large amounts of a sunscreen that we know doesn’t cause irritation;  the same might apply to you for soaps, shampoos, detergents, skin care or even cosmetics. Especially in Asia and Africa, brands cater to local needs, and so if you have Scandinavian or Scottish ancestry, you’re going to have to hunt harder (and pay a great deal more) for products for your skin type. And the same applies for those traveling in the opposite direction – while big cities cater to a cosmopolitan mix of health and beauty needs, as you get more rural, you will have difficulty finding the brands or products that you favor. So start making your list. And checking it twice, as the song goes.