Question for International Travellers

Updated on June 01, 2012
M.S. asks from Minneapolis, MN
14 answers

Hi, ladies. We are going to India this fall so my 4-year old DD can see her Indian side of the family. I just saw a question about vaccines and it triggered this question. When you travel abroad do you get additional vaccinations? I am planning to take her (and I!) to a travel clinic to see what they recommend but just wondering what others do. We drink boiled water, and have no fresh milk products, no street food, no unpeeled fruit, and no raw vegetables when we are there to avoid the risk of food-borne illness.

Also, her passport is not due to expire until next year. However, her passport picure was taken when she was 2 months old. I'm wondering what your take is on whether I should re-apply for a new passport, since she has obviously changed a lot since that picture was taken!


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So What Happened?

Thanks for the helpful responses. My husband is Indian and I am American. We've been to India together twice and I haven't gotten sick, by taking the precautions I and others mentioned but for some reason I got worried this time. I did ask the passport question because I fear that people will think she is not mine--we look a lot alike but of course she is darker--but as someone said, who knows what can happen. I will get cracking on the passport because although she has been issued a 10-year multiple-visit visa it is in her old passport and I will likely need to get that replaced in her new passport. BTW, if anyone wants to tell me how on earth I should explain to her the presence of beggars and street children (and children enslaved by others to beg) feel free to message me! :) Thank you!

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answers from Washington DC on

i didn't get any vaccinations to go to england, but you may want to check on the situation in india. it may be prudent to do so.
my parents went to india two years ago. they had a wonderful time for the most part, but my dad got so sick he did spend part of the time in the hospital. and they were very, very careful with water and food, and did get a slue of vaccinations prior to the trip. i don't want to be an alarmist, but be prepared.
i would replace the passport. you want her to be easily identifiable, and the last thing you need is to run into headaches while you're in a foreign country. if you had several years left that would be different, but since it expires next year, go ahead and do it.
have a great trip!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Vaccines: Hep A, and you need to start the medication for malaria now.2 days before you go, we took Mefloquine (Lariam) all my kids and I took it. No side effects. Watch where your going, as far as Dengue Fever. Mosquito borne. Its super bad this year. Travel Clinic will have the information when they ask your destinations. Be sure to use the highest Deet allowed on children for mosquito repellent. Boil water, and watch BAKERIES. as you said you don't eat street foods, Restaurants are usually ok, but bakeries use a lot of local foods and are not as sanitary as ours in the states. Daughter picked up infection from eating croissants at a bakery in Noida Mall, Delhi.
Your daughters passport? Are you Indian with Indian children, or Anglo-Indian (white indian mix) if your kids look more American it doesnt really matter, you will need a travel visa anyway for them, and there should be an updated photo, but if they have PIO (Persons of Indian Origin) cards your fine with the older Passport. However, if you know the red tape and wait of Indian Governmental organizations you may want to update it now. They love to make peoples lives miserable with stamps and fees if they think you can be messed with. We were stuck at the embassy for a week on coming home from the last trip cause my husbands green card had un-matching 4 numbers, cause the computers still showed him a 2 year resident, and he was actually upgraded to a Permanent Resident. He is an Indian Citizen I am American. If your kids are full or half Indian then and they don't have a PIO card, that would be really good to get one for them, They will sail through all the checks with those.

State Department, and Travel Clinics will recommend MANY MANY vaccs and preventatives. Only because they have too. They are not sure if you plan to go to the slums, or on a jungle tour. So thats why they will over load you with recommendations. If you stay in the normal large cities, they are no more or less dangerous than at home, I only get the Hep A, Tetnus booster if its needed, and Malaria medications. Pill form.. I go there every year.

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answers from Charlotte on

Added - I just thought of something else to tell you, MS. Scan the picture pages of all your passports into an email in your computer so that if a passport is lost or stolen, you can access it for the American Embassy. I don't know if you're going to New Delhi or not, but it's easier to get a replacement if you have access to the copy.

And another addition - please let the State Department know that you are traveling there.

You are right about a child's passport only being good for 5 years, but you should definitely get her a new passport anyway. The LAST thing you want is an altercation of some kind in a foreign country, with someone claiming that she is not your child. Laugh if you like, but you have NO idea of some of the things that can and do happen.

The travel clinic is the best place to find out what shots to have. I'm sure that she is already current on what she's supposed to already have for HERE, right? You probably want a typhus vaccine - I'm sure they'll recommend that.

Believe me, you can try your hardest to do everything "right" and still get sick. Bath or shower water on her face can get in her mouth. You must use bottled water on her toothbrush, too. Hershey's brand milk that is supposed to keep for months on the shelves made me sick there, so it's not just fresh milk products. And though everyone says to eat at the hotel, that's where my husband ended up getting sick. :(

Talk to the doctor about medicines you can take with you to help. Hopefully the travel center can specifically address that with the doctor, because knowing that it's India actually makes a difference in those medicines. (We've done that.)

I'm sure you know a lot already, but I'm going to offer this anyway. If someone comes up to you with a baby in their arms, you need to hold your own arms tight against you. Don't put your arm out to them to hand them anything. One of the many scams there is to put a baby in your arms and run away, leaving you holding the baby. They expect that you will go into one of the businesses and ask for help, and you will have to "pay" the business owner to take the baby. It's all pre-arranged and they try to use the babies like that over and over with any foreigner they see, especially a woman.

If you are on a train going across country with other foreigners, it's easy to have treats in your bag to throw out the window to children as the train is leaving the station. That way you feel good about sharing with them. However, don't give money to ANYONE near a crowd, because they will swarm you. A friend of mine's hair was pulled down and clothes were ripped trying to get money from her when she gave some to one person. It was very frightening for her and her husband.

Be careful, and try to stay with native speakers when you are out and about. If you are safe and don't get sick, you will have a wonderful experience.

Good luck!

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answers from Kansas City on

We travel, a lot. But apparently have never been to a destination that required vaccines. And never been to India, which is one place I'd love to go. I agree, to check out if any are needed for your DD.

I think I would also double check on the passport. I have heard of people being denied travel IF their passport was due to expire within 6 months of travel.

Safe Travels.

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answers from Washington DC on

I have never been to India. However, I would definitely check to see what shots are required.

As to the passport. Get a new one. You have time. It's best to have a recent picture of her. You do NOT need to wait until it expires to get a new one. You can go to your local post office and apply for one. Call before hand to see if you need an appointment.

Hope you have a wonderful visit!!

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answers from St. Louis on

I didn't get any additional shots but I travel to Europe. Not much different from here, ya know?

So far as the passport goes I thought all of them expire after ten years. Regardless they have gone way up in price, I think my husband's was 160 with all the fees and what not. I won't be getting mine replaced with my married name until it expires in eight years. Just easier to book my travel in my maiden name.

If they give you trouble about the picture ask them how you can fix it sans paying another 200 bucks.

Five years? Good to know. I hope they don't charge you full price for them. :(

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answers from Santa Barbara on

I was talking with my district sales manager yesterday and she just the go ahead to spend a month in New Delhi training on certain laboratory testing protocols. She does have to receive additional immunizations for the trip, I don't know what they are.

I would update the passport!! It was crazy how my daughter couldn't be identified a couple of years after her first passport photo. Children's passports are not valid as long as adults (I'm too lazy to look at my daughter's first few!). Please also look into how much time must be left on the passport and still be considered valid. I thought there was an issue when I received my visa to travel to China.

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answers from Chicago on

If you think the passport picture is nowhere like what she is now, go ahead! Take a new one! you have time! :)
As for your trip to India? I was born and raised in India. And although you only ask about vaccinations mainly, I just wanted to share some more tips that may be of use to you -
- Yes, do contact travel board, and get her vaccinations shots before you leave. Call early to schedule within time
- All metro/big cities in India (New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkatta, Bangalore) have good hospitals with good medical facilities, and good pediatric care. Check up on a few in the city you plan to visit, and keep their emergency numbers with you.
- Stick to bottled water, or use a good quality purifier. Better, use pre-boiled cooled water to drink at home, and try carrying a bottle during short travel - not just for DD, for yourself too.
- Avoid street food. Your biggest challenge with common Indian food are spices, heat (Indian peppers), and cooking oils. Choose your foods appropriately. If you visit a good quality restaurant, ask them to make your food with 'less spice and less oil'. Most restaurants in cities, cater to such requests. The 'menu' you find in Indian restaurants here is only tip of the iceberg. Don't be afraid to explore more, but practice moderation and dig in gradually. :)
- Milk - there are people who'd swear by those in tetra packs. Those NEED NOT necessarily be your only option. A lot of families buy fresh milk regularly also. Just make sure you always consume fully boiled milk - cooled down.
- Weather - India is tropical. Carry good quality insect repellents, and use them regularly on yourself and on DD. Also carry sunscreen in hand, just in case. Sept/Oct time in India can mean rain in many areas - (check with your family) which automatically also mean big puddles. Carry your rain boots (they're not very common in India) and maybe a raincoat.
- Practice other travel safety like you would in any country/city.

A lot of information about DOs and DONTs can sound very overwhelming at first look. But all it really takes is just some good forethought and planning. :) That done, I hope you enjoy your visit to my home country. Enjoy the food, culture, diversity, and just the difference in ways of living! :)

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answers from Columbia on

contact the State Department. They have a website with all this info

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answers from Chicago on

I was in India in December 2010 and as an adult, I needed several boosters of the usual immunizations. I do recall I had a tetanus, Hep A/B (combined dose) shot, took malaria medication and I think shots/meds for typhoid. Kids are usually up to date on shots and may not need several. You can consult with a travel doctor to verify. I was there for 10 days and luckily didn't get sick at all. It is a fabulous place to visit. I hope you enjoy the trip.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Sounds like Marty MOMMA has exactly what you need (current on-the-ground information) and you're even in the same city! My information is based on repeated travels to Tanzania with kids under 6, so I can't tell you much about India-specific health suggestions. I can tell you that we do need some additional vaccinations, and it would be wise to make sure that the family's tetanus shots are up to date. Anti-malarial medications are important to look into also; I didn't think that Lariam/mefloquine was approved for kids under 6, however I might be misremembering. I personally wouldn't spend the money to get a new passport issued if this one will be valid for several months after your return, but that's me. I would suggest, however, getting some new passport photos taken, especially because if your daughter doesn't have the document mentioned by Marty MOMMA, you'll need a visa and that application will surely require at least one passport sized photo. It is a good idea to have an extra set of passport photos with you anyway, just in case something happens and you need to get a new passport issued. Have a great time!



answers from Minneapolis on

The picture does not matter. As long as the passport is still valid for 6 months after your return date, it is fine. My son had his picture taken at 2 months also and used that passport for international travel until it expired.

Research the areas you will be travelling to and find out the rates of different diseases (especially various hepatitis, malaria, dengue, etc.) Also ask your peds advice. Then make your decision. The CDC usually lists suggested vaccines for different areas of the world but their data is extremely generalized and really depends on specific details of your trip. For example, they lump all of Central America and Mexico together for their recommendations. Here is CDC info for India, it is a good starting point for researching.



answers from Miami on


If her passport is due to expire within 6 months of her return date - then get a new one now. This goes for anyone travelling overseas to anywhere. The host country, the airline and US immigration can hold you up otherwise.

(Former International Student Advisor)

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