Travelling is of course a load of fun, but like anything else in life, it’s important to stay safe and healthy while you do it. No-one wants to go away and spend their precious time and money nursing a sore stomach or a broken leg. In this post, we consider the top ten tips for a healthy – and therefore better - trip away.
1. Vaccinations and medication: Depending on where you travel, how long you travel and what time of year you’re heading off, you may need medications or vaccinations. Vaccinations against diseases like typhoid, hepatitis, and rabies may be essential, while medications to fight diseases like malaria are massively important for travelling in some parts of the world. Book an appointment with a medical professional at least a month before you leave.
2. Medical kit: Take a medical kit with you on your trip. Stock it with simple but useful things such as pills, bandages, plasters, and anything else you think you might need. You should also include a generic first aid kit to make sure that you’re going to have all you need in the case of any minor ailments or small emergencies.
3. Personal medication: If you take any regular medication at home, or you occasionally need to access medication – such as an inhaler for asthma – make sure you take them along with you. You should also carry your prescription note or a medical note to make sure that you don’t have any problems while carrying them over a border. Occasionally, though rarely, border guards might seek clarification on what a drug is and what you use it for.
4. Tap water: Tap water unfortunately isn’t drinkable everywhere. And just because local people drink it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily safe for you. They may have built up tolerances which you don’t have. Consult official advice online to find out whether the tap water is drinkable; and if it's not, don’t risk it – stick to bottled water or boil water before you slurp it down.
5. Food: This is a big one when you travel. In some parts of the world, food hygiene has lower standards than you may be accustomed to. In places like Southeast Asia for example, street food is a huge part of life, with people eating and buying most of their meals on the street. While this food is often delicious and offers a great way to experience proper cultural immersion, it’s worth being a little bit wary. Try to eat food which is piping hot and avoid cold food that has been sitting in the heat or sun for hours on end. It’s also a good idea to avoid food with lots of flies hanging around, as they can carry dangerous bacteria. Don’t feel like you need to eat at the most sanitary of places all the time – that would be boring – but use a little common sense and check for heat, cleanliness, and freshness to make sure a tasty meal doesn’t become a sickly surprise.
6. Wash your hands: This one, though it might seem obvious, can be easy to forget. Lots of places aren’t well-equipped for fans of hand hygiene, so you should carry a small bottle of alcohol-based antibacterial gel to keep your hands clean when there’s no soap at hand. When washing with soap, you should make sure that you do so properly and thoroughly, with plenty of hot water. There are a load of video guides online which can walk you through the process.
7. Stay hydrated: Health specialists recommend drinking two litres of water per day, and it should be even more when you travel. Sun and exercise will cause sweating, water loss and dehydration, while salty restaurant food is bound to make you thirsty. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water, and carry around a large bottle so you always have access to some healthy hydration.
8. The sun: It’s one of the reasons that many of us travel, but it’s also a reason why we need to take care. The sun while you travel might be much stronger than you’re accustomed to, so make sure that you’re covering up your body, and that you’re wearing a hat and sunglasses. It’s also very important to wear sunscreen, and to regularly reapply it to make sure that you’re always at full strength. Lastly, you should avoid the peak sunlight times of 1pm-3pm, and try to stay indoors or in the shade when the sun is at its hottest and highest.
9. Packing: When planning your trip, think about the things you want to do and the type of weather you’ll be experiencing. Cold weather of course requires different clothing than hot weather, and certain activities require a certain wardrobe. If, for example, you’ll be hiking, you need to make sure that you have some good hiking boots or shoes with good grip and great support. Whatever you’re planning to do, make sure that your wardrobe is planning to help you.
10. Travel insurance: Hopefully you won’t need it, but you always need to have it. If you’re unlucky enough to find that something does go wrong, it’s essential that you don’t have to cover it yourself, with some medical emergencies costing in the millions. Good travel insurance means that you won’t be left with a massive, unaffordable bill if you do have to seek medical care. Make sure you read your policy carefully, and be certain that it covers at least the basics of medical cover, medical evacuation and emergency assistance.
So there we have it! Be safe, be healthy, and have a better break. Happy travels!