If you are heading abroad this summer, check out our travel tips to help you prepare for staying healthy and safe while you’re away.
Before you go…
Do you need any travel vaccines?
It’s important to speak to a GP or travel nurse at least 4-6 weeks before you go on holiday to check if your routine vaccines are up to date and if you need any additional travel vaccinations or malaria tablets.
Are you prepared if you get sick abroad?
Pack a basic first aid kit to bring with you – this could include some pain relief medications, antihistamines, insect repellent, sunscreen, sunburn treatment, antiseptic, tape, plasters and tweezers.
If you are travelling further afield you might want to consider bringing some anti-diarrhoea medication and rehydration sachets.
Before you go on holiday it’s important to get comprehensive travel insurance that covers anything you want to do while you are away. Declare any underlying medical conditions and ensure travel insurance includes cover for accidents, emergency medical treatment, medical evacuation and repatriation.
If you are travelling to the EU make sure you apply for your free European Health Insurance Card(EHIC) to cover the costs of any essential treatment while you’re abroad [EHIC cards currently issued by the UK will be valid until 31stOctober 2019, and access to healthcare when visiting an EU country is likely to change If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31stOctober 2019].
For country specific advice on vaccinations, malaria, and travel considerations, Travel Health Pro allows you to check travel advice for any country.
While you are away…
Use a sunscreen with at least 30 SPF and 5-star rating and reapply frequently and liberally. Check out our blog post debunking sun safety myths for more information on sun protection.
Food and water safety
In countries with poor sanitation do not drink tap water or use tap water to brush your teeth unless it has been treated. Instead use filtered, bottled, boiled or chemically treated water. Take care with ice cubes too as these may not have been made using safe water.
When sanitation is poor you should avoid the following to help reduce the risk of illnesses including traveller’s diarrhoea:
- Uncooked fruits and vegetables, unless they have been washed in safe water
- Raw or undercooked seafood or shellfish
- Food from street traders unless it has been prepared recently and is served piping hot
- Cooked foods that may have been left uncovered for any length of time
- Unpasteurised milk or dairy products
- Buffet style food – opt for food which is freshly prepared and served piping hot
Try to pick places to eat which have a reputation for serving safe food and don’t forget to wash your hands after going to the toilet and before eating or preparing food. Hand washing facilities might not always be available, so it may be a good idea to carry hand sanitising gel or hand wipes with you while on holiday.
Body piercings, tattoos and unprotected sex increase the risk of blood borne diseases such as hepatitis B and C and HIV. It’s better to get tattoos or body piercings done safely while at home, but if you do get them while abroad, always check sterile, single use needles are used and disposed of carefully after each procedure.
Appropriate protection such as a condom can protect against STIs and the transmission of blood borne diseases.
And when you get home…
Feeling unwell when you get home?
You should seek urgent medical attention if you have any fever or flu like symptoms on return home from holiday. It’s important to tell your doctor that you have been abroad. This is especially important if you have been to countries where malaria is prevalent, as an urgent malaria test must be arranged, even if you took malaria tablets and have been home for a while.
If you had unprotected sex while you were away or think you might have a sexually transmitted infection, go to a free, confidential sexual health clinic for advice. You can find your nearest sexual health clinic using this handy search tool.
All of our ZoomDoc GPs can give you advice on travel health and travel vaccinations. Just download our app to speak to a GP in seconds. And don’t forget our app works worldwide too – so if you get sick while you are on holiday, you can speak to one of our Great GPs using telephone or video consultation via our app – giving you instant reassurance and medical advice while abroad. Great GPs, Instantly!