With holidays coming up, there are a few things you can do to stay healthy on your hard-earned holiday.
We want you to enjoy your trip as much as possible and get the most out of any destination you’re visiting. Here’s some simple ways to stay healthy while travelling.
1. Do some research before you trip
No matter where you’re wanting to travel, a little research on health risks in the area is a good idea. A great place to start is with the World Health Organisation. They’re always up-to-date with any worldwide health issues. Another website you should check for up-to-date travel notices is the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
For a more professional travel health consultation especially for those with chronic medical conditions, talk to your doctor. There are many things you can do to prepare and your doctor can help tremendously to ensure that you stay healthy on your trip or provide a personalized first-aid pack for minor ailments.
2. Get vaccinated
Most countries don’t require you to be vaccinated before you arrive, but it’s recommended that you check which vaccines you may need when visiting the Pacific Islands, Asia, Africa, the Middle East or South America. Sometimes your childhood vaccinations may also need to be updated before you leave, so please do check with your GP whether it’s needed, and what vaccines are required before travelling to your particular destination. Another important fact is to make sure you give yourself enough time to be vaccinated before departure, as some vaccines may need to be administered six months prior to travelling, or more!
3. Travel light
Regardless of how much luggage your airline says you can take - carrying heavy bags, or too many bags, can be difficult and dangerous. You’ll look like a tourist and that can bring unwanted attention your way. It’s much easier to keep track of one bag and move around, than it is with three. Lifting or managing multiple heavy bags can increase the risk of injury to your back. We suggest you invest in one good sized, quality bag with four wheels (not two) that will allow you to manoeuvre any space with ease. Resist the temptation to pack more clothes than you need, think about what activities you have planned and pack appropriately. If you do find you need something that you haven’t packed, it’s a great opportunity for you to go shopping! One thing you need is your electronic devices for communication and internet access. Take at least 2 devices e.g. smart phone and tablet as backup. You will at least have the means to call for help or to have remote medical consultation. Consider packing a small first-aid pack containing emergency medication and medication that you normally take. Your doctor can help with with the preparations.
4. Plan daily
Spend a few minutes each day, either in the morning or evening, planning and organising your next day’s experiences. Ask at the reception desk or the concierge about where to go and how to get there. Some places offer a booking service for day tours. Knowing you have already organised where you’re headed, what to wear, what to take with you and how you’re getting there will mean your outing will be a more relaxed experience, with plenty of time to take photos and enjoy the scenery!
5. Be wary of street food
Discovering local dishes prepared by a street vendor can be one of the most exciting things about eating overseas. When buying street food, it’s always a good idea to buy from a merchant that is popular with the locals. If you have to queue, the food is probably good and should be fresh. While in the queue, watch how they prepare their food, you might pick up a few cooking tips and it’s also a good idea to check the vendor’s food hygiene practises at the same time. Be wary of food that is not freshly prepared, cannot be peeled or prepared in a location without running water.
6. Drink water
Hydration is very important when travelling, especially during air travel as this can often make you feel parched and dehydrated. Once you’ve arrived at your destination, staying well hydrated is just as important - but make sure the water you’re drinking is clean. If there’s any doubt, it’s best to purchase bottled water. In most countries and hotels ice is made from tap water so, if you’ve been drinking bottled water all day, it’s safer to request no ice when you’re ordering a drink in a bar or cafe. If the tap water is not safe to drink, remember to brush your teeth with bottled water as well.
7. Go swimming
When holidaying in a tropical paradise, you generally spend a lot of the time out and about in the sun and at the beach. Water quality at a beach is unlikely to be contaminated, however just be cautious if you’re thinking of taking a dip in a river. Rivers and waterways are prone to pollution in many countries and can carry serious viruses, despite the water looking clean. If you’re in any doubt about the water quality, it might be better to not go swimming at that particular location.
8. Wash your hands
Washing your hands frequently is one of the simplest ways of avoiding illness. Consider packing a bottle of hand sanitiser, or buy one when you arrive at your destination and use it regularly. It’s incredibly easy to touch something that has been contaminated and then put your hand to your mouth without thinking about it. Hand sanitiser is a simple and convenient way of keeping your hands clean at all times and in all situations.
9. Use mosquito repellent
If you use mozzie repellent, your risk of being infected by a more serious disease is greatly reduced. It may not be the best smelling thing on the planet, but if used regularly, mozzie repellent will stop those pesky mosquitos biting you. Some of the worst diseases and viruses are carried by mosquitos – malaria, dengue and zika viruses being just a few of them. Using mosquito repellent is, perhaps, the most effective thing you can do to stay well whilst travelling in areas that are prone to virus carrying insects. And don’t forget to use bed nets if these are available. They should touch the ground, or tuck them under the mattress if they don’t reach the floor. Check with your doctor before your trip on whether you will need malaria prophylaxis if you are travelling to warmer countries.
10. Exercise and sleep
Travelling uses a lot of extra energy, both physically and mentally. Make sure you get plenty of fresh air and do something active on a regular basis, such as taking a walk or perhaps doing a few stretches in your hotel room each day. If the accommodation you are staying at has a pool or a gym, try it out but make sure you don’t overdo it. Try to get plenty of rest and wherever possible stick to your usual sleep time and patterns. Don’t drink too much caffeine or alcohol too close to lights out and aim for an average of seven hours sleep, that way you will be refreshed and all ready for the next day’s exciting events and ensure you are getting the most out of your holiday!
The importance of having a pre-travel consultation with your doctor can not be overstated. A little preparation goes a long way when it comes to having a great holiday.