15 ways to stay healthy when you travel abroad

Sri Lanka beachNow nothing spoils an overseas trip like getting sick. But don’t let the fear of getting ill stop you from travelling we have put together our top tips to help keep you fit and healthy whatever you are doing abroad.

  1. Take care in the sun – make sure that you are using sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and cover up when it gets really hot. Avoid the sun during the hottest hours of the day and try to stay hydrated, that means drinking lots of water not beer.
  2. Wash your hands – this is obvious and you should be doing it anyway but make sure that you are washing your hands especially before you eat. Pack an anti-bacterial hand gel to keep you hands clean as sometimes when you are out and about it can be tricky to find somewhere to wash your hands.
  3. Stick to bottled water or treat the water – different countries have different standards for water treatment. If you aren’t sure it is best to stick to bottled water. Or better still treat the water yourself (avoid all those plastic bottles going into landfill). If you want to treat your own water look into getting a bottle suck as this one, it makes water purification really convenient.
  4. Avoid foods that have been sitting out in warm weather – whilst all the food sitting out on a buffet can look very appealing it is not necessarily the most hygienic of places to eat. Cooked food should be piping hot and it if isn’t I would steer clear.
  5. Alcohol and drugs – now we don’t want to ruin the party but be responsible when it comes to drinking. Over-doing it can lead to dehydration but can also end up with you getting lost and leaving you in a vulnerable position. By all means, go out and have a good time but just take care. When it comes to illegal drugs, use your common sense. They are illegal and the consequences of getting caught can be severe.
  6. Avoid food that might have been washed with tap water – if you are somewhere where the tap water is not suitable for drinking you will need to be careful about what you eat. Ice may have been made from tap water and salads may have been washed in it. Try to choose fruit that can be peeled and eat your greens cooked. Avoid ice cream unless you know it comes from a reputable source (branded).
  7. Cold weather – it might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about travel but cold weather can be dangerous. Pack layers, avoid cotton if you are going to be exerting yourself and take a hat, gloves and scarf with you just in case.
  8. Insect bites – avoiding getting bitten is tricky. Sometimes it seems like the little blighters are just out to get you and you alone. Try to cover you skin, especially in the evenings when mosquitoes can to be more active. Take a good quality insect repellent with you and wear it. It is also worth sleeping under a mosquito net. Avoid scratching the bites as this can lead to infection and we all want to avoid that.
  9. Make sure you get all your jabs – before you go make sure that you have all the injections that you need, visit your GP or travel nurse and take their advice. It is good to get this done well in advance.
  10. STIs – okay okay so you all know the drill, yet every year people return home from abroad pregnant or with STIs. Practice safe sex and if you can’t then avoid it. It is both of your responsibilities, don’t assume someone else will take the necessary precautions.
  11. Stay active – one of the best ways to make sure that you stay healthy is to keep fit. You don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn and go running but just try to do a bit of exercise.
  12. Pack a small first aid kit – having a few bits and pieces like plasters, paracetamol, antiseptic and rehydration sachets means that if you do come down with something or hurt yourself you will be able to deal with it rather than have to find a pharmacy ASAP.
  13. Get enough sleep – without sounding too much like your Mum make sure that you get enough sleep. We aren’t suggesting you are in bed by 9 with a Horlicks but if you are over-tired it can certainly lead to you getting run down and it just makes you feel generally a bit rubbish.
  14. Altitude sickness – when you are travelling over 3,000m you need to take care. You will need to ascend slowly. Exertion can cause breathlessness and even headaches and nausea. If you descend and you are still suffering don’t ignore your symptoms, seek medical attention. Altitude sickness can be very serious.
  15. Make sure you have insurance – if things do take a turn for the worse you will be pleased to know that you have insurance and that things can be taken care of. When getting insurance don’t skimp, get cover that doesn’t have a high medical excess as that will put you off seeing a doctor if you need to.

Use your common sense. If it seems like a dumb thing to do then chances are it is. Travelling is meant to be fun and if you take a few precautions you are likely to avoid the worst of any health problems.

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