I am a big fan of traveling to unusual destinations—and unusual locations within those destinations. So anytime I am traveling out of my own country, I turn to a travel health clinic like the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center Travel Medicine Clinic to help me plan my trip from a health and disease prevention standpoint. Here’s what you need to know about using one.

What they do:

Health dangers around the world constantly change. Travel health clinics can advise you on the vaccinations you need (and administer them), update you on recent health warnings in the countries you are visiting and be your partner to call should you run into health uncertainties while away.

Side note: while my vaccination photo shows how happy I am to be getting all of my shots in one visit—be advised, that getting three or four shots at the same time can hurt–I spared you the photos of pain on my face after getting vaccinations in both arms!

How much they cost:        

Your costs at a travel health clinic are comprised of two separate things: a consultation fee to discuss your trip with a nurse and costs associated with any vaccinations that you receive. Generally speaking, consultations will run between $100-$200. Vaccination costs will vary depending on what you need and how many vaccinations you receive.

For example, for a month-long trip to four countries in Asia–I needed 3 vaccinations and a couple hours of consultation with the nurse–my bill was around $400. It is one-stop shopping for peace of mind, credible health information, vaccinations and any prescriptions that I need to take along with me. Keep in mind that the travel clinic can write the prescriptions you will need for your tip, but the costs associated with filling them will be determined through your insurance.

Partners while on the road:

Trust me–if you get sick while traveling, or can’t remember how and when to use an antibiotic–having a specific person to email is like a life ring being tossed to you while stranded in the middle of the ocean. Your travel health clinic contact is available for questions and concerns while you are on the road and even when you return home.

I returned extremely ill once from a trip overseas. I had unusual symptoms and was very sick for weeks. My travel health clinic partners played an important role in working with my family doctor to determine what kind of illness I may have picked up on my journey.

Investing in your health before, during and after your trip should top your priority list. Getting sick or injured away from home is miserable enough, but encountering a foreign illness because you didn’t spend the time or money to prevent it could be deadly. If you travel — establishing a relationship with a travel health clinic is invaluable.