Being a healthy traveler involves a little foresight, a little planning and cultivating good habits — before and after you hit the road.

The coronavirus outbreak has a lot of people panicking these day, and has the whole travel industry in a state of chaos.

History tells us that the COVID-19 scare will come and go, like virtually every other viral outbreak before it. but the need to protect our health is constant.

With that in mind, there are certain things you should always do to safeguard your health when you travel. All of them are basic, common-sense steps — and you should be taking most of them long before you start packing.

  1. CHECK YOURSELF — Talk to your doctor and get a thorough check-up. Tell your physician where and when you plan to go, what you expect to be doing and how long you plan to be there.
  2. PREPARE YOURSELF — If you keep yourself in top shape, great. If not, talk to your doctor about an exercise and diet regimen to get you ready for your trip, then get busy. You’ll enjoy your trip a lot more — and be better able to handle the long flights to and from your destination.   

    * Make up a little kit for yourself and keep it handy. An over-the-counter medication for stomach upset (your doctor may prescribe you a powerful antibiotic for really bad intestinal bugs). Disinfectant wipes. Eye drops. Anything else? Ask your doctor for recommendations.

    * If you take prescription medicines on a regular or daily basis, make sure you have enough in advance to last the duration of your trip. When packing them, keep them in their regular prescription bottles (pills in unmarked containers can make authorities suspicious, which could mean big hassles for you). Have copies of your prescriptions on hand — or have ready access to them from your doctor back home — in case you lose your meds while on your trip.

  3. PROTECT YOURSELF — With sanitation — wash your hands often. A good 20 seconds with soap and water is best, a good hand sanitizer (minimum alcohol content 60 percent) if that’s not an option, alcohol-free sanitizer if there’s just nothing else. 

    — With insect defense — protect yourself against biting bugs. Flies, ticks and above all, mosquitoes. For most, that means a reliable repellent, either based on DEET or Picaridin. Learn how to dress in ways that don’t make you attractive to little biters. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a good resource for this.

  4. — With good judgment — Like street food? Don’t just watch what’s cooking, but also who’s cooking it. If things don’t look sanitary, hard pass. Your stomach will thank you.

Following these basic steps, following your doctor’s advice and keeping yourself informed with up-to-date information from official, expert sources like the CDC give you the best chance to stay healthy abroad, so that the only thing you bring back from your travels are great memories — and maybe too many souvenirs.