Everyone loves a good holiday, whether that’s sunning yourself in the tropics or skiing down the slopes of the Pyrenees. You’ve saved up for months to take the trip, so don’t let yourself down by failing to take the necessary health precautions. After all, who wants to be stuck in the hotel with diarrhoea whilst your friends are playing volleyball on the beach?!
Here are 8 must-read tips on how to have a happy, healthy holiday this year…
Depending on where you’re going, you may need to be vaccinated against certain diseases before you leave. In some cases you’ll need treatment a month or even two months before you go, so this is one thing you really don’t want to leave until the last minute to sort out!
Travelling within your home continent is generally fine, but if you’re heading to another continent be sure to make an appointment with your GP to go through any immunisations you may need.
Be Careful What You Eat
It pays to remember that food hygiene standards vary around the globe, and although your destination of choice may seem like paradise the street food stalls or even restaurants might not be on par with those back home.
In the tropics for example, human faeces are commonly used as a fertiliser for fruit and veg, so you’ll want to ensure any fresh fruit you buy is scrubbed clean before it touches your lips! Also, you may be used to leaving food out at home or carrying it in your bag for the day, but remember that a hotter climate means food deteriorates – and bacteria develop – much faster.
Not all countries have fresh drinking water readily available, and just because it comes out of a tap and looks nice and clear doesn’t mean it’s safe to drink!
Check up on the water standards of your chosen destination before you travel, and if in doubt always buy bottled water. This includes avoiding ice that could have been made with unsafe tap water.
Screen Your Skin
Sunburn is not only painful and likely to spoil all of those holiday photos (who’d want a picture of themselves with a beetroot-red face up on Facebook? Not me, thank you) but it can also be dangerous – burning in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer, and people have even been known to get third-degree burns from falling asleep under the powerful rays!
Be sure to pack a sunscreen with an adequate SPF – I’d recommend 30 as a minimum, and 50 if you’re fair skinned. A tan can always be faked!
If you think there’s a chance you’ll have sex whilst on holiday, be sure to pack condoms in your suitcase. Depending on where you’re travelling to, basic items such as these that we take for granted in UK stores may be pretty difficult – or expensive – to get hold of, as well as things like the morning after pill.
You want to come home from your getaway with a fantastic set of memories, not an STD!
Avoid All Animals
Rabies is relatively rare in the UK, but that doesn’t stop it killing around 60,000 people worldwide each year. It’s still a common disease in some countries, so when abroad stay away from stray animals – it just takes one bite, scratch or even a lick over broken skin for infection to take hold, and once symptoms are showing rabies is almost always fatal.
Protect Yourself From Mosquitoes
It’s not just the big animals you need to watch out for either – the tiny mosquito can do more than just give you an itchy and annoying bite; mosquitoes can spread diseases such as malaria and yellow fever, both of which can be fatal.
Pack plenty of mosquito spray – it might also be a good idea to take a mosquito net and anti-mosquito candles if you’re heading to a high risk area. Anti malaria tablets are also available for those who want extra piece-of-mind.
Ensure You’re Insured
Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, sometimes we’ll just end up ill or hurt on holiday anyway. If you’ve ever been ill or had an accident in the UK, chances are the NHS paid for all or most of your treatment, but not so abroad.
I once paid $400 for a 5-minute treatment in America when I hurt my ear drum, so don’t let the same happen to you! Health insurance is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that, should anything befall you, you’ll be able to afford medical help.
Does anyone have more tips for health-conscious travellers?
Gavin Harvey is a globetrotting blogger who recommends Dr Fox. He’s travelled all over the world and seen some amazing sights – and suffered from some nasty illnesses too! Now he’s super health conscious and sees planning for illness just as important as packing his suitcase before he leaves.