Regardless of age, your destination, or your travel experience, you should always take these precautions for looking after your health while travelling. Half of everyone who heads abroad will experience a travel-related illness, and while most are minor, some travellers have contracted some seriously infectious diseases because they lacked health and safety awareness.
BEFORE YOU GO
- Consult with your travel agent for advice on health and safety in your chosen travel destination, they will be able to advise you on what precautions to take in terms of insects, climate, and culture.
- Find out where all the local medical facilities will be in the areas you are visiting in the rare event of a medical emergency or if you just need something basic such as painkillers.
- Ensure you have organised travel insurance and that it covers any pre-existing illnesses you might have.
- Prepare yourself for increased physical activity with exercise and healthy eating.
- Make sure your chosen accommodation offers air-conditioning if the climate is hot and that it follows all health and safety regulations.
VISIT YOUR DOCTOR
You should visit your doctor 6-8 weeks before you travel to:
- Undergo a medical check up to ensure you are fit and healthy for travel (especially if you have any existing chronic medical conditions such as heart disease).
- Get any boosters and/or vaccinations you may need prior to travelling to a certain location.
- Discuss staggering any pre-existing medications you might be taking to fit with your new time zones.
WHILE YOU’RE AWAY
You may suffer with jet lag after flying through several time zones. Interruption of your daily rhythm may cause fatigue, sleep difficulties, and disorientation. Be sure to get a good nights sleep before your flight and don’t plan too much for the first day of your holiday as you will need time to recover.
Eating and Drinking
The most common travel-related illnesses are caused by poorly prepared foods or unsafe water. You should always wash your hands with soap and running water before eating to reduce your chances of getting sick. It is also a good idea to carry around with you an anti-bacterial hand gel. Some travellers feel safer avoiding meat whilst abroad as this is the most likely food item to cause an upset stomach. When it comes to water, avoid ice drinks and only drink bottled or previously boiled water.
Other precautions you can take include:
- Avoiding street stalls.
- Checking food is cooked through and hot before eating.
- Avoid shellfish.
- Peel any fruits and vegetables that haven’t been washed locally.
Insects and Animals
Some infectious diseases such as malaria and yellow fever can be transmitted by an insect bite so be cautious and wear mosquito repellent if those kind of diseases are present in your chosen destination.
Animals can carry a range of harmful diseases which can be passed onto humans. To stay safe:
- Avoid contact with all animals including domesticated pets.
- Visit your doctor immediately if you are scratched or bitten by an animal.
- Keep food away from stray animals.
- If you do come into contact with animals, wash your hands immediately.