Staying Healthy Abroad

Posted on March 18, 2016

To make sure you stay healthy and well during your holidays, you must be prepared. Here are our top tips for avoiding a holiday disaster, and staying healthy abroad;

  • First aid kits – always carry a decent first aid kit when you go abroad, this should include an antiseptic agent (e.g. wipes or cream), plasters, rehydration sachets, and painkillers.
  • Vaccinations – depending on where you are travelling, check that you don’t need any vaccinations or booster jabs before you travel. If you are travelling outside of Europe it is always advisable to check with your doctor. Make sure you do this well in advance of your departure, as some vaccinations take weeks to fully take effect.
  • Travel insurance – always make sure you have quality travel insurance before you depart. Make sure it covers you for any activities you might participate in and pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Water – just to be safe, only drink bottled water abroad, and avoid ice in your drinks. Contaminated water can cause severe stomach upsets including vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • Sun – always wear sun protection, wear a hat and sunglasses, keep covered up, drink plenty of water, and take regular breaks in the shade.
  • Prescriptions – make sure you have enough of your prescription medication to last the entire trip. Just to be safe, photocopy your prescriptions and bring them with you. Always check how much of your medication you are allowed to bring into the country, and whether you’re allowed to bring your medication in at all.
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis – keep active during long journeys; check out our DVT Guide for more information.
  • Alcohol – always be extremely careful when drinking alcohol abroad, as the measures are usually larger and the spirits are stronger.
  • Glasses – bring an extra pair of glasses and your prescription just in case.
  • Sex – always pack a good supply of condoms, if there is a chance you could have sex abroad. Always use a condom to prevent pregnancy and STIs, remember that every country has different rules about sex or indecent behaviour in public, you could face arrest or a hefty fine.

How to Avoid Deep Vein Thrombosis

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Deep vein thrombosis or DVT is when a blood clot forms in a vein, this often occurs in the legs because of long periods of immobility, but it can happen elsewhere in the body, for example the arms.

If a small part of the clot breaks away it can be extremely dangerous, as it will then travel around the body and could enter the lungs, causing further problems.

People who regularly travel or long haul travellers are most at risk from DVT, however there is no need to panic.

There are some extremely simple steps to keep active and avoid DVT;

  • Make sure you drink plenty of fluids such as water and juice throughout the journey, to avoid dehydration. Try to avoid lots of alcohol and caffeine as this will not help.
  • Every fifteen minutes to half an hour, try to exercise your leg muscles whilst sitting, by flexing your ankles and knees, or by pressing the balls of your feet onto the floor as hard as you can. This should increase the blood flow around your legs.
  • If it is safe to do so, at least once an hour, try to walk up and down the airplane, coach or train aisle. This should give your body a short rest from the sitting position and increase blood flow.
  • Try not to take sleeping tablets; if you sleep for the entire journey you could potentially be immobile for a very long time.
  • If the plane or coach stops to re-fuel or for a short stop over, exit and walk around in the fresh air for a bit (make sure you’re allowed to do so first).
  • Compression stockings are available at most airports and pharmacies; these will also help to keep blood flowing around the body.
  • If you are worried, talk to your doctor before travel.

How to Combat Travel Sickness

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Unfortunately most holidays come with a certain amount of travelling, and this can cause a lot of distress for holidaymakers who suffer from motion sickness. Imagine instead of being excited, actually dreading the beginning and end of your holiday because you know you are going to feel awful.

  • Travel or motion sickness is brought on by the motion of a car, train, plane or boat which changes the balance in the inner ear, and causes sickness, dizziness and sweating.
  • To help travel sickness sufferers, here are our top tips to prevent motion sickness;
  • Firstly, always sit facing the direction of travel, this will help you to know when there could be increased motion, and will help your body to adjust.
  • If travelling by car, always sit in the front seat. Otherwise always choose a seat where you will experience the least motion, for example the middle deck of a boat.
  • Try not to read or look down during the journey, you should try not to concentrate on anything except watching the road or route ahead.
  • Try to focus on a fixed point ahead; it could be a bridge, a hill, a sign or even the horizon, this should help your body to adapt.
  • Always try to sit near a source of fresh air or air conditioning; this should help to cool you down.
  • Be careful what you eat or drink before the journey, try to avoid drinking lots of fluids, consuming alcohol, and being too full, all will not help and could make you feel more nauseous.
  • You can purchase some herbal and over the counter remedies which can be extremely effective. For longer journeys, for example a cruise holiday, ask your Doctor for advice on prescription medication.

Happy travelling!

Travelling with a Disability or Medical Condition

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Here is our guide for anyone travelling abroad with a disability or medical condition;

  • Always invest in quality travel insurance before you depart, make sure you have declared your pre-existing medical conditions and that these are covered.
  • Always keep your medication in its original packaging.
  • Check with the airline or transport services to make sure your needs will be catered for, e.g. extra leg room, or transport from the departure lounge to the gate, etc.
  • Consult your doctor before travel, make sure you have adequate supplies of any medication, and that you do not need any vaccinations. Also, get their opinions or recommendations on any over the counter medicines you may need, for example pain killers.
  • If it isn’t on the box, make sure you have made a note of your medication’s full name – not just the trade name.
  • If possible, always pack your medication into your hand luggage – just in case your hold luggage goes missing.
  • If you are travelling within Europe, make sure you have an EHIC.
  • If you need to bring any specialist equipment, which you plan on checking into the hold, always check the airline’s luggage policy first, to make sure it complies with the airline’s luggage policy.
  • Make a list of important phone numbers, for example your Doctor in the UK and any specialists you are seeing, along with your conditions –keep this with you at all times, just in case.
  • Photocopy your prescriptions and bring them with you, just in case.
  • Research the facilities at available resorts before you book anything, make sure the accommodation meets your needs, for example dietary requirements or accessibility ramps.
  • Research the medical assistance available in your destination country; make sure you know where the local hospital is and the emergency services phone number.

Enjoy your holiday!

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