How to Ensure Holiday Health

First Aid Box

Holidays can be a time to let our guard down, indulge and relax - and quite right too. But it wouldn't be a holiday without good health - from a simple mosquito bite to a dangerous preventable disease, feeling unwell can seriously ruin a trip.

So, don't let illness or injury upset your holiday, travel prepared by reading Essential Travel Magazine's top ten tips on Holiday Health.

For further, country-specific information on health and safety abroad, visit our FCO widget.

  • Do

    1. CHECK IN WITH YOUR DOCTOR. See your doctor at least one month before you travel to make sure any vaccinations you need have time to take effect. Get vaccinated even if you have a last minute booking as it will still increase your protection against a range of diseases. Your doctor can also advise you on malaria tablets and any high risk foods or situations you should avoid at your destination.

    2. PLAN FOR POOR HEALTH. It may sound negative, but planning for illness will make things a lot easier if the worst happens on holiday. Pack basic drugs such as paracetamol, hay fever tablets, laxatives and diarrhoea tablets - these may be hard to ask for in a foreign language. If you take a prescription drug, take enough to see you through the holiday. If you need to take medication on a plane, it's worth noting the hand luggage rules here.

    3. BE A GOOD FIRST AIDER. Pack a first aid kit whenever you travel. This tip is even more important for those taking an active holiday - if you're out walking, cycling or hiking, access to medical supplies may be limited.

    4. AVOID BEING DINNER. Mosquito bites are not only painful and unsightly, but can be dangerous as well. Insects can carry disease so cover up as much as possible (particularly near water and in the evenings) and invest in a good repellent that has a high percentage of anti-mosi agent, DEET.

    5. INDULGE - JUST NOT TOO MUCH. Holidays are made for indulgence. Eat, drink and enjoy... but don't go crazy. Increasing your blood pressure, cholesterol or generally feeling lethargic and bloated doesn't make for a happy holiday.

  • Don't

    1. WING IT. Insurance will help safe guard you against any costly medical bills should you need treatment while you're away. As well as pay-for insurance, those travelling to an EU country need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The card replaced the E111 in 2006 and allows EU nationals to obtain local healthcare.

    2. SIT STILL. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DTV) can occur whenever the body is immobile for extended periods of time. So, whether you're travelling by plane, train, car or coach, remember to take regular breaks and walk around. Remain hydrated when travelling and avoid alcohol or greasy foods so you don't end up feeling dehydrated or bloated.

    3. DRINK FROM THE TAP. Every country has different water filtering processes that, no matter how clean, may still not agree with foreign tummies. It's best to drink bottled water, avoid salads (washed in tap water), ice and raw foods. Boil water if bottled is unavailable and make sure all food is fresh and cooked thoroughly.

    4. BURN. Staying safe in the sun will not only help protect you against skin cancer and premature aging, but avoid painful sunburn ruining your break. Wear loose fitting clothes that cover your skin, a hat and plenty of factor 30 sunscreen. Remember: suncreams expire, so chuck out last year's bottles and start again.

    5. LET AN STD BE YOUR SOUVENIR. Safe sex at all times means you won't come home with any nasty STDs. Pack condoms, remember any prescription contraceptives and consider getting vaccinated against Hepatitis B before you go (the only STD that can be prevented).

Last Updated: October 2009