After the past couple of years we’ve had, you might be itching to jump on a plane and spend a couple of weeks soaking up the sun — or exploring somewhere new. But after all the excitement and build-up of holiday planning, the last thing you want is to travel abroad and get sick. At the very least, your holiday will be ruined, and at worst, you might catch a nasty bug that develops into a serious illness.
But staying healthy abroad doesn’t have to be hard. In this blog, we share our top tips to help you stay healthy while travelling.
1. Check if you need vaccinations
If you’re travelling abroad in a country where serious infectious diseases are found, it’s vital to get vaccinated before you travel.
It’s always a good idea to get a general health check before you travel, where your doctor can tell you if you need any vaccines, and if so, which ones. If you’re travelling to a country where you could catch a serious disease, we highly recommend getting vaccinated. Infections like yellow fever, typhoid and meningitis can be serious, or even life-threatening, so it’s a good idea to get protected – it could save your life!
We suggest booking an appointment with a doctor at least eight weeks before you plan to travel, as it can take time for your body to build immunity against a disease. Some vaccines are given in multiple doses over several weeks or even months, so if you’re travelling somewhere where you’re likely to need vaccines, it’s important to do your research as far in advance as possible.
At our private hospital, we offer a comprehensive list of vaccinations to help you stay healthy while travelling abroad. You can get these done via our private GP Clinic – call 020 7432 8269 to get in touch, or our Urgent Care Clinic – call 020 7432 8300 to book an appointment.
2. Stock up on prescription medication
If you take prescription medication, make sure you stock up before your trip. Ideally, take enough to cover your whole trip, and a little bit extra in case your flight is delayed and you need to stay abroad a bit longer.
When you head for the airport, take a copy of your prescription with you, as you might need it as you go through customs or airport security.
It can also be helpful to pack a small first-aid kit containing bandages and plasters, anti-diarrhoea tablets and rehydration salts, and painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. Hopefully, you won’t need them, but forewarned is forearmed.
3. Note emergency phone numbers
You never want to go on holiday and spend it in the hospital, but it’s worth knowing who to call if you, a loved one, or a travel buddy gets sick.
Check in advance what your travel insurance covers and what steps you might need to take to claim on your policy. It’s worth printing out your insurance certificate and handbook and keeping it in your suitcase, so you can refer to it easily, should the need arise. When you land, find out the number of the emergency services and where the nearest hospital is, and save these details on your phone. If you’re travelling in a country where your native language isn’t spoken widely, try to learn some basic words such as “doctor” or “emergency” as well, though Google Translate is a good option too!
4. Wash your hands often
We all know it’s important to wash our hands to reduce the spread of germs — now more than ever. But when you’re travelling abroad, it becomes even more vital as you’ll come into contact with germs and bacteria that your body may have never encountered before.
Getting vaccinated protects you against more severe infectious diseases, but you can still get sick — and you don’t want to be stuck in bed battling a cold when you could be enjoying the local cuisine, taking in the sights or relaxing by the sea with a holiday read. So, to stay healthy while travelling abroad, wash your hands often and carry wet wipes or hand sanitiser when you’re on the go.
5. Avoid overloading on the good stuff
A holiday is a perfect excuse for a blowout. It’s a time when many diets go out the window, and it’s normal to drink a little more than you perhaps should — especially on an all-inclusive stay! A rich meal and sugary dessert washed down with your favourite tipple are okay once in a while, especially when you’re on holiday, but our final travel tip is to avoid overdoing it. Try to balance heavier meals with fresh, local produce and avoid drinking too much, especially if you’re in a warm country. Alcohol and heat rarely mix well, causing dehydration and playing havoc with your sleep.
Are you planning a trip? Stay healthy while travelling abroad by having a health check-up and getting vaccinated.
Book an appointment at our Urgent Care Clinic or Private GP for travel advice and vaccinations.