A little planning before departure, particularly for pre-existing illnesses, will save trouble later. See your dentist before a long trip. Carry a spare pair of contact lenses and glasses, and take your optical prescription with you. Bring medications in their original labelled containers. A letter from your physician describing your medical conditions and medications, including generic names, is also a good idea. If you are carrying syringes, be sure to have a physician’s letter with you documenting their necessity.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all travellers should be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis (whooping cough) and polio, regardless of their destination. You should also consider being vaccinated for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and tetanus. Since most vaccines don’t produce immunity until at least two weeks after they’re given, visit a physician at least six weeks before departure.
Tick-borne encephalitis is spread by tick bites and is thought to exist in forested areas of Montenegro. It is a serious infection of the brain and vaccination is advised for those in risk areas who are unable to avoid tick bites (such as campers and hikers).
The US Center for Disease Control recommends a rabies vaccination for long-term travellers and 'wildlife professionals, researchers, veterinarians, or adventure travelers visiting areas where bats, carnivores, and other mammals are commonly found'.
If you’re an EU citizen, you will be covered for most emergency medical care except for emergency repatriation home. Citizens from other countries should find out if there is a reciprocal arrangement for free medical care between their country and Montenegro. If you do need health insurance, strongly consider a policy that covers you for the worst possible scenario, such as an accident requiring an emergency flight home. Find out in advance if your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers or if it will reimburse you later for any overseas health expenditures. The former option is generally preferable, as it doesn’t require you to pay out of pocket in a foreign country.
To avoid getting bitten by snakes, do not walk barefoot or stick your hands into holes or cracks. Half of those bitten by venomous snakes are not actually injected with poison (envenomed). If bitten by a snake, do not panic. Immobilise the bitten limb with a splint (eg a stick) and apply a bandage over the site firmly, similar to a bandage over a sprain. Do not apply a tourniquet, or cut or suck the bite. Get medical help as soon as possible so that antivenom can be administered if necessary.
Good, affordable health care is readily available in Montenegro and for minor illnesses, pharmacists can give valuable advice and sell over-the-counter medication. They can also advise when more specialised help is required and point you in the right direction. The standard of dental care is usually good, but it is sensible to have a dental check-up before a long trip.
Watch out for sea urchins around rocky beaches; if you get some of their needles embedded in your skin, olive oil will help to loosen them. If they are not removed, they could become infected. As a precaution, wear rubber shoes while walking on the rocks and take care while bathing.
As a general rule, tap water is drinkable in Montenegro but there can be problems. For instance, it's advisable not to drink the water in Herceg Novi in May as they close off and clean the pipes from the main reservoir (in Croatia) and revert to a local reservoir. Bottled water is cheap and readily available.