The Christmas holidays are a popular time to take a holiday and while most people have few health problems there is the potential for everything from jet lag to tropical diseases. Here are our seven top tips to stay healthy while travelling.
Tip 1: If you have a medical condition, make sure you take enough medication for the whole trip and a little while longer. Split the medication into two lots and keep one with you so if your luggage goes missing, you will still have a supply. Weekly medication packs (as shown) are very handy for travel and will have a list of all your medications printed on the back. If not in a pack, keep your medicines in their original packs with labels on them to make going through customs easier. Ask your pharmacist when to take your medicines if you are changing time zones. Store your medicines in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight or according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Remembering to pack some over the counter medicines for pain relief, diarrhoea or allergies can save hassle later.
Tip 2: If you are lucky enough to be travelling overseas, visit your doctor at least six weeks before you leave to discuss your travel requirements such as anti-malarial medication or vaccinations. Check you are up to date with tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough and polio, plus your basic ones of measles, mumps, rubella and hepatitis A. The risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is higher when travelling long distances. Your doctor may recommend medicines to take if you have a history of DVT or heart problems, but otherwise, compression stockings may be useful. During the flight, try and walk around each hour and move your feet around regularly. Avoid too much alcohol, rather, drink plenty of water.
If you are travelling to a less developed country, avoid contaminated water by cooking, boiling or peeling food. Take care not to swallow water in the shower, pools or while brushing your teeth and make sure any food you eat is cooked, freshly prepared and piping hot.
Tip 3: Jet lag can interrupt your holiday, try and sleep on the plane and drink plenty of water. Wear loose clothing and move around as you would to prevent DVTs. Once you arrive, spend time in the sunshine to help reset your body clock.
Tip 4: Alleviate the symptoms of travel sickness by avoiding fatty or spicy foods and eating a light meal about an hour before you travel. Eating ginger half an hour before your journey may also help.
Make sure you face the direction in which you are travelling and choose the most stable area. In a car that is the front seat, on a plane it is over the wing and on a ship it is on the deck. Distract yourself while travelling is a good idea, however avoid activities that encourage you to look down. Ask your pharmacist whether a travel sickness preparation such as Sea-Legs would be suitable for you.
Tip 5: Avoid insect bites by covering as much of the skin as possible with clothing and avoid being outdoors two hours either side of dawn and dusk. Insect repellents and insecticidal sprays can be used. You can choose from ones containing DEET or natural alternatives based on essential oils, depending on where you are travelling to and personal preference.
Tip 6: Try and prevent constipation by drinking plenty of water and choosing fresh fruit when it is available. Take a few minutes to go for a short walk when possible, to help digestion. Laxatives may be useful if you still get constipated.
Tip 7: Travel with a well stocked first aid kit and know when and how to use everything in it. Make sure you start with the basics such as bandages, dressings, gloves, adhesive tape and scissors. Kits could also include tweezers, sick bags, gauze, a first aid booklet, large dressing pads and saline solution. Then add a few extra things to customise to where you are going and who you are travelling with. Some useful items to include are: