by TravelSafe Clinic TravelSafe Clinic No Comments

Convenient Pre-Travel Consultation

Ready, Set…Hold On!

Congratulations! You’ve booked your flight, chosen an aisle seat, found the perfect hotel, rented the car, and even created a “what to pack” list (at least in your head). Seems like you’re all ready to escape on your dream vacation! You’ve planned everything meticulously and thought of every detail and eventuality. But have you thought of contacting TravelSafe to find out about what appropriate vaccinations and prescriptions you may need? If not, you’re almost done…but not quite!

Plan for Protection

There’s one more thing to do that will ensure you’ll not only arrive safe and sound, but you’ll stay that way for the duration of your trip and after! We at TravelSafe strive to ensure that you’ll have the most worry-free vacation possible and, for us, this starts with protecting you from diseases, illnesses, and outbreaks that may be present in the region in the world that you are traveling to.

One to One Consultation

Making an appointment for a consultation with one of our experienced medical professionals is easy and convenient. Simply call or email! We offer comprehensive service with knowledgeable staff, highly specialized in travel health.

The Power of Now

Booking and receiving a consultation is easier and more pleasant than waiting in the security line at the airport–and far less attitude! Our pleasant and accommodating staff make sure that we address all your concerns and provide you with all the necessary information for optimal travel health. In short, we can take care of all your needs and also arrange your prescriptions within 24 hours! For those of you who are a little “last-minute” when it comes to travel preparations—we’ve got you covered.

Why Do I Need a Consultation?

With the multitude of tasks involved in the planning of a trip, it’s hard to keep track of what vaccines are required, and even harder to keep abreast of current information with regards to disease outbreaks. Diseases can spread quickly and unpredictably, and it is our job to keep up to date and current so that we can provide you with peace of mind. Knowing you are getting the right vaccine for the right region you are traveling to is imperative!

Further to this, our TravelSafe professionals are dedicated to preparing you for a safe and healthy trip and can address your travel needs all in one visit. We will consult with you about the details of your trip, review your health history, provide the appropriate vaccines and arrange your travel prescriptions. We have all travel vaccines in stock, including Yellow Fever.

Invest in your Trip!

Trips can be costly. Once you factor in the price of your flight, the hotel, car rental and (of course!) shopping, things can really add up! You work hard to be able to go on vacation, and the absolute worst thing that could happen is that you fall ill during your trip. All that hard earned money down the drain.

An Ounce of Prevention

The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” really does ring true! It’s worth paying a small amount for your vaccines and prescriptions to ensure that you’ll enjoy your expensive trip to the fullest!

by TravelSafe Clinic TravelSafe Clinic No Comments

Keeping Freud and Canines at Bay: The Importance of Prepping for School

Keeping Freud and Canines at Bay: The Importance of Prepping for School

Freud’s Underwear 

We’ve all had those college nightmares. You know the one where you realize you’re extremely late for that big test. Or the one where you can’t find the exam room, and then you realize you’re in your underwear to boot! It doesn’t take Freud to explain that these dreams are the result of a certain amount of fear and anxiety around starting a new semester of school.


It’s Okay to be Nervous

Give yourself the permission to feel nervous. It’s totally normal and expected. The reality is that it’s everyone’s first day at school and whether they show it or not, they are just as nervous as you are. In truth, being nervous just means that you care about what you’re doing and you’re taking your studies seriously.


Academic Goblins

There are, however, effective ways to reduce this stress. We don’t want you having any more nightmares before school, so we’ve provided some useful information below that will help vanquish those imaginary monsters and academic goblins that go bump in the night.

Make a Good Impression: Take an Orientation 

There is nothing more stressful than arriving late to your first class, and it doesn’t make a great first impression on your instructors either.

A great way to reduce stress before starting school is to take an orientation. Most schools offer one, and they’re an effective way of familiarizing yourself with the physical layout of the school before your first official day on campus. An orientation will also help you locate the on-campus services that can help you: the tutoring center, disability services, counseling services, and any other resources that will assist you when you need it.


Preparation Meets Opportunity

One of the best ways to keep the anxiety at bay is to be prepared! Before you start your courses, be sure to check out your courses syllabi and reading list. If the instructor has not listed this online, take the time to contact them and ask.

Contrary to public opinion, instructors are, on the whole, very nice, encouraging and appreciative of students who care about their studies and academic success. You’d be amazed how much information and advice your instructors will give you if you simply contact them and ask!

Once you know which books and readings are required, it’s best to get to the school bookstore early to avoid long lines and the possibility of the readings being sold out! Most school bookstores also sell used books, but they sell out quickly!

Knowing what each course entails, how many assignments and tests are given and the general workload can help you start to plan your semester even before you begin!


Keeping the Dogs Away with Time Management

You may find that in college or university things are fast-paced. With multiple courses, work, and extracurriculars, it’s easy to lose track of things and get behind. The best way to combat getting overwhelmed is by implementing good time management skills. This will make prioritizing and remembering things much simpler, and will make your academic life so much easier!

The most effective way to plan your time is to create a detailed daily schedule that blocks off time for your classes, homework, study and personal time. One of the best organizational hacks is to mark down in your calendar all your assignment due dates and test at the beginning of the semester.

If you plan out how much time you’ll need to devote to each assignment, you’ll never have to tell the instructor that the dog ate your homework!

Have a great semester and remember to avoid any class where they make you read Beowulf!





by Penny Gleave RN, BScN Penny Gleave RN, BScN No Comments

Don’t Let Summer Take A Bite Out Of You!

Summer’s in full swing and that means days at the beach, picnics in the park, and weekend camping trips. But with summertime fun comes uninvited visitors – mosquitoes, ants, ticks, bees and wasps. A bite from any of these insects can quickly spoil your fun. Whether in Canada or travelling abroad here’s what you can do to protect yourself from those pesky insects.

Dress for Success!

  • Minimize exposed areas of your skin by wearing long sleeve shirts and long pants. Tuck in shirts and pants into socks, especially in areas where there may be ticks (long grass and wooded areas).
  • Cover your feet with closed shoes rather than sandals.
  • Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colours so wearing light coloured clothing is best to avoid bites
  • Avoid strongly scented products (perfume, cologne, hair products)
  • Treat clothing, tents and mosquito nets with Permethrin when travelling to an area with high risk of malaria or other mosquito borne diseases (follow product instructions and do not apply to skin)
  • If not sleeping in a sealed or air-conditioned room when travelling to areas with mosquito borne diseases, use a Permethrin-impregnated bed net and tuck in around the bed at all times.
  • Apply insect repellent to all exposed non sensitive areas of the body (follow product instructions)


Choosing a Repellent

DEET, icaridin, citronella, eucalyptus – the choices are almost endless! How to choose a repellent:

Chemical vs Natural Products

When travelling to areas with mosquito borne diseases (eg. malaria, dengue, zika, Japanese Encephalitis, chikunguyna) the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends the use of a repellent that contains either DEET or icaridin:

  • The most effective repellents contain DEET (10% for children 2-12 years and 30% for adults)
  • A more gentle alternative contains 20% icaridin (safe for babies >6 months)

Botanical repellents containing eucalyptus, citronella, soybean oil, geranium oil and castor oil are available but there is insufficient evidence available to prove their effectiveness. These may do the trick during Canadian summer months but for travel to areas with mosquito borne diseases it’s best to stick with DEET or icaridin.


Tips for Applying Repellents:

  • Insect repellents are available in spray, lotions, or wipes. Avoid spraying repellent near face, eyes, and food, and wash hands after applying. Do not use over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
  • If using sunscreen, apply repellent 15-20 minutes after the sunscreen is applied.
  • DEET and icaridin can be used when pregnant or breastfeeding but should not be applied directly to the abdomen or nipple area.
  • When applying repellent to children adults should spray first on their own hands, then spread onto the child’s exposed skin while avoiding the child’s hands, eyes, mouth and sparingly around the ears.


I’ve been eaten alive!….now what??

Despite your best efforts you ended up with a few bites. Here’s a few ways to soothe your bites:

Itch relief

  • Itching can be temporarily relieved by applying a product to the bite containing ammonia (i.e. afterbite), calamine lotion, or an over the counter cortisone cream.
  • Applying cold compress with ice can also help to temporarily relieve itching and help with swelling
  • For people who experience more severe reactions to mosquito bites an over the counter antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), cetirizine (Reactine), or loratadine (Claritin) can help relieve swelling an itching. Diphenhydramine may cause drowsiness so cetirizine or loratadine may be more suitable for daytime use. Read and follow the instructions on the labels and do not give antihistamines to your child without discussing with your doctor first.

Bee stings

  • If you are stung by a bee, wasp, or hornet remain as quiet and calm as possible. Leave the area as the nest may be close by.
  • Remove the stinger by flaking or scraping the stinger off your skin (don’t squeeze or pull the stinger as this may inject venom into your skin).

Tick Removal

  • After working or spending time in areas with leaves, tall grasses or woodpiles check your entire body for ticks, including groin, scalp and armpits.
  • Use tweezers with a fine tip to remove the tick. The tick’s mouth will be stuck in your skin and the body will be above the skin.
  • Don’t grab the tick from it’s swollen belly as this could push infected fluid into your body.
  • Grab the tick from as close as it’s mouth as you can. Gently pull straight out until the tick’s mouth lets go of your skin. Don’t twist the tick as the body may break off leaving the head in your skin.
  • After removing the tick was the area with warm soapy water.

For more information:


by Kristin Gagnon, RN Kristin Gagnon, RN No Comments

Destination Kilimanjaro: Does It ‘Peak’ Your Interest?

One step in front of the other. After 7 days of hiking through jungle, hot sun, arid desert, rain, fog, hail, wind and snow we are almost at the summit. And finally, after hiking all night, we make it to the summit just as the sun is rising. And here we stand at 5,895m on Uhuru Peak, the roof of Africa, on the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro (with a bonus surprise at the top!)

Mt. Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s seven summits, representing the highest peak on Africa’s continent. Located in Northern Tanzania it attracts an estimated 25,000 climbers per year but for those attempting the 4-5 day routes only 10% will reach the summit. As Kilimanjaro does not require any technical climbing skills many people underestimate its seriousness. At TravelSafe Clinic we’d like to prepare you for a successful climb. Keep on reading for tips about choosing your route, tour company, packing, and high altitude.

Choose your route

The Marangu route is the classic route up Kilimanjaro and is usually sold as a “5 day, 4 night” trip. This route is often named the “Coca-Cola” route as accommodation is in bunkhouses rather than camping. Many people who attempt this route do not successfully summit as there is little time to acclimatize to the high altitude. There are at least 9 other routes which involve camping and are usually sold as 6-9 day packages. Choosing a longer route will provide more opportunity to acclimatize to the high altitude. We chose the 8 day Lemosho route, which has a high success rate and provided us with sufficient time for acclimatization. This route begins in rainforest and travels upwards through moorlands, arid desert, and glacial zones. It is considered one of the most scenic routes on Kilimanjaro!

Choose your tour company

Trekkers must book through a licensed agency and be accompanied with a guide. Do your research as your success greatly depends on the support of your tour company. TripAdvisor is a great place to look for climber’s reviews. The cost of a trek can range from USD $1,000 to USD 5,000+. You can find a great company for less than USD $5,000 but don’t cheap out as you may be sacrificing gear and guide experience. You may find some discounted packages by booking your trek and safari with the same tour company. Some important considerations when choosing your tour company:

  • How many people in a group? Your experience will vary greatly if you are a group of 25 versus a group of 2-6 people
  • Ask about gear and ensure it’s high quality (you don’t want to wake up in a puddle if it rains!)
  • Ask about the guide’s experience and ensure that medical checks are included and oxygen is provided (our guide carried oxygen throughout the entire trek and checked our blood pressure, pulse, oxygen saturation and breath sounds twice per day)
  • Is the company a member of KPAP (The Kilimanjaro Porter’s Assistance Project)? The KPAP’s website isn’t lying when it says that “the porters are the heart and soul of your trek.” The porters carry the heavy gear, cook and serve food, and ensure you are well looked after. KPAP ensures that partner companies are in compliance with guidelines for the proper treatment of porters, to ensure that they are paid fairly and do not carry more than the maximum allowable weight.


What to pack?

From hot humid jungle, to dry desert and glaciers. Be prepared for sun, rain, cold and snow. Layers are key!

  • Hiking boots (well worn in!)
  • Camp shoes (it feels so good to get your feet out of your boots after a day of trekking)
  • Headlamp and extra batteries
  • Hiking poles
  • Breathable, waterproof shell jacket
  • Breathable, waterproof pants
  • Down jacket
  • Fleece jacket
  • Fleece pants
  • Moisture-wicking long sleeve shirts and t-shirts
  • One to two base layers (tops and bottoms)
  • Hiking socks (with a variety of cushioning)
  • Sock liners (for summit night and to prevent blistering)
  • Sun hat
  • Warm hat
  • Glove liners
  • Warm, waterproof gloves for summit night
  • Sunglasses
  • Gaiters (we didn’t use these but many people swear by them to keep the dust off)
  • Day pack (large enough to carry your water, camera, lunch and layers)
  • Waterproof duffel bag (the porters will carry this)
  • Water bladder (3 L) or water bottles
  • Warm sleeping bag
  • Sun screen
  • Lip balm
  • Wet wipes
  • Electrolytes (i.e. hydralyte)
  • Snacks (although we didn’t end up eating most of our snacks as we were extremely well fed on our trek)
  • Blister bandaids
  • Camera and extra batters (Our iphones and gopro didn’t work at summit due to the cold)
  • Medications: ciprofloxacin, diamox, immodium, ibuprofen, antiemetic, antimalarials (if needed)
  • Cash for tipping guides and porters
  • Cards or book for down time

Much of this gear can be rented in town before starting the climb. We rented waterproof duffel bags, waterproof pants, and a warm jacket for summit night. I wouldn’t recommend renting boots as these should be well broken in and moulded to YOUR feet to prevent blisters.


The highs of Kilimanjaro – coping with altitude

After months of preparation and years of dreaming everyone climbing Kilimanjaro has the same goal – reaching the summit. Unfortunately many travellers arrive under-prepared, ascend too quickly, and fail to reach the summit. Proper acclimatization is not possible for many trekkers and so most people suffer to some degree of acute mountain sickness (AMS).

AMS is a genetic trait that varies from person to person. It is not dependent on the degree of physical fitness and it is not possible to predict the risk of AMS. The only predictor of AMS is how you reacted on a previous trip to high altitude – if there were previous problems at high altitude then these are likely to return on Kilimanjaro.

Symptoms of AMS may be mild and include headache, fatigue, lack of appetite, nausea, insomnia, dizziness, and general malaise. A small number of people can develop more severe symptoms of High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) or High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE). Symptoms of HAPE include a dry cough and shortness of breath at rest, when “it becomes impossible to finish a sentence without gasping for breath.” In addition to AMS symptoms, HACE causes profound lethargy, drowsiness, confusion, slurring of speech, and difficulty walking in a straight line. If symptoms of HACE or HAPE appear a person requires immediate descent and medical attention. Both HACE and HAPE can be fatal if a person does not descend to a lower altitude.

Keep in mind the following tips about high altitude to help you prepare for a successful climb:


Pole pole

  • You will hear the phrase “pole pole” countless times on the mountain. This is the Swahili word for slowly and your guides will say it to you over again. Heed this expression and make sure you walk “pole pole!”
  • Allowing more time to acclimatize will help for a successful summit. Consider choosing a longer route instead of a 4-6 day route or add an extra day or 2 to your ascent.
  • If possible, hike nearby Mt Meru (4,565m) or Mt Kenya (4,895m) before your climb up Kilimanjaro.
  • If you plan on visiting Ngorongoro Crater (2,286m) do so before Kilimanjaro. Sleeping here for the last few nights of your safari will help to acclimatize for Kilimanjaro (especially for those living at sea level in Vancouver!)
  • Don’t try keep up with the porters! Most of the porters have spent a considerable amount of time on the mountain. Even when you feel like you are keeping a good pace your porters will fly by you. Remember to walk pole pole!


Climb high, sleep low

During the day climb higher than your sleeping altitude to encourage acclimatization. Follow your guide’s advice if an acclimatization walk is recommended after you’ve reached camp.


Consider your meds!

  • Consider taking diamox (acetazolamide) to speed acclimatization, starting two days before ascending and continuing until reaching the summit.
  • Bring ibuprofen or acetaminophen to treat headache caused by AMS
  • Bring an antiemetic to treat nausea/vomiting caused by AMS. Ginger is a natural alternative to anti-nausea medications that may cause drowsiness.
  • Avoid alcohol and sleeping pills

Stay hydrated!

Drink 2-3 L of water per day (more on summit day). Urine should remain clear and hydration is absolutely necessary even if you do not feel thirsty (fluid loss from breathing greatly increases at high altitude).


Recognize the symptoms AMS and know your limits!

People with mild symptoms of AMS can safely remain at high altitude and treat headache and nausea. If symptoms continue to worsen while resting at the same altitude then you must descend at least 300m. Listen to your guides if they advise you to turn around. Your guides want nothing more for you to summit so recognize the seriousness of your symptoms if they are telling you to turn around. Reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro is not worth your life! And remember that the journey doesn’t end at the top. You also need the strength to get back down


Recommended reading: “Kilimanjaro: The Trekking Guide to Africa’s Highest Mountain” by Henry Stedman


Before you travel, protect your health.

TravelSafely with TravelSafe Immunization Clinic