How to avoid being ill on holiday

Travelling away on holiday should be all about having fun, enjoying yourself and going home with stories of exciting, inspiring and unique discoveries from your travels and a feeling that your batteries have been recharged.

However, too many of us end up needing medical attention while we’re away, whether it’s a result of an accident or due to having too much sun or eating something that doesn’t quite agree with our delicate UK digestive system.

And no one likes being ill on holiday. So here’s our seven-step plan to help you avoid a holiday hell and stay fit, healthy and safe while you’re away.

1. Respect the sun

I am one of the worst offenders for rushing straight out into the sun on day one of a holiday somewhere hot. As if deprived of Vitamin D and craving my sunshine fix, it’s not long before I’m bright red, dehydrated and ruing my decision to ‘get a tan’.

Of course, where I am going wrong is the same mistake many of us make. It’s wise to slap on the sun cream, introduce your delicate skin to the sun slowly, and keep those fluids going so that you acclimatise your body to the change in environment. Slowly does it is the watch word for a healthy tan that doesn’t leave you with sun stroke or looking like a lobster.

2. Keep a check on the alcohol

Over-indulging in alcohol, coupled with strong sun, is a recipe for disaster. Not only is it easy to lose track of how long you’ve been in the sun, it’s just as easy to forget quite how much you have downed. This can this leave you severely dehydrated in the heat, but if you then fall asleep in the hot sun you are likely to burn badly. So go easy on the rum punch.

3. Be careful with water

Ice cubes, salads, tap water when cleaning teeth and drinking water all pose a potential risk if you are not confident of the quality of the water in the area you are visiting. If you’re in any doubt, use bottled water with seals intact for all drinking and cleaning and avoid eating anything where you have not seen how it was washed and prepared. If you are travelling somewhere really remote, ensure you have water purification tablets in case you can’t easily access clean sources of water.

4. Keep that stomach settled

It just all looks so tasty doesn’t it? Exotic foods, huge holiday buffet spreads, the heady aromas of street food as you wander around… But unless you have a cast iron stomach, something, somewhere is likely to have you making friends with the bathroom – so be careful about what you eat abroad.

While many countries are unlikely to give you any issues at all, many less developed locations can have your insides turning out. So easy does it with spicy foods or things you are unfamiliar with until you have acclimatised your digestive system to what’s on offer. Avoid food that has been left out for a while, as well as shellfish, salads and raw foods in general. Always travel with some tablets for diarrhoea and rehydration for emergencies. A good travel insurance policy will assist if you do need medical treatment.

5. Beat the mozzies

Britain may be getting warmer, but we have yet to see swarms of mosquitos gorging on our over-exposed flesh on those hot summer days and evenings. This means that when we head overseas we are often oblivious to the work of these little blighters. Just a few minutes without some kind of repellent can have parts of you looking like a pin cushion and many will react badly to the bites with skin inflaming. And that’s before the itching kicks in!

Do yourself a favour and use a good insect repellent. You can even get sun cream with it included now to make life easier. The effort of a few minutes protecting yourself will pay huge dividends.

6. Protect yourself against diseases

One thing that all travellers should do is to check out if their holiday destination requires any kind of preventive measures before they travel, such as vaccinations. Take a look on the internet – sites such as the NHS Fit For Travel website are an excellent source of up-to-date information on everything from jabs for rabies and yellow fever to malaria advice.

Couple this with a visit to your local doctor and ensure you have the most up-to-date protection. And don’t forget to keep things like tetanus protection up-to-date for any cuts and grazes.

7. Play it safe

When you are out and about, it’s vital that you pay attention to the general rules of health and safety.

For example, familiarise yourself with the fire exits in your hotel and the procedure if anything should happen, don’t hire mopeds without taking a helmet, be sure you have cover on your travel insurance for any activities you undertake, and know the rules of the road when driving or walking.

Simply following some basic advice can seriously help you out. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office website has sections on general issues for each country of the world, and following these will help you to become acquainted with the dos and don’ts of where you are visiting.


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