The last thing you want when you have limited time to enjoy your well-earned holiday is to suffer ill health. What could be a mild inconvenience back home can easily turn into a minor emergency when you lose precious hours, days or even weeks to recuperation.
Luckily, most holiday health issues are preventable – here are some of the most common health challenges you’re likely to encounter, and what you can do about them.
#1: Travel bugs
No, not the travel itch that never goes away, but much shorter cases of the sniffles, throat infections and any number of other viruses you’re more susceptible to on your travels. Most cases will only go as far as putting a downer on your holiday, but incidences like the recent MERS outbreak in Asia can cause more serious problems.
What to do:
- Eat well, avoiding salads or other raw, washed foods unless you’re positive of the water quality
- Drink plenty of clean water
- Wash your hands regularly
- Keep tabs on travel health advisories In your destination
#2: Hotel health hazards
Choosing the right hotel is about far more than finding the best deal and you might be surprised to learn how many health hazards can hide in a hotel room. So be sure to do your homework if you find your own accommodation, or you can always take the all-inclusive approach instead!
#3: Traveller’s diarrhoea
Call it Delhi belly, Bali belly, the Thai trots or any other charming name you can come up with – these nasty stomach bugs can put you out of action for days or even weeks. Local water, poor sanitation and food preparation issues are common causes.
Diarrhoea itself doesn’t normally pose a threat to adult travellers, but it can sometimes be a symptom of something more serious like typhoid – so keep your jabs topped up, and stick to the bottled water and cooked foods if you’re unsure about water quality.
Dehydration isn’t just a symptom of excessive heat; it can give you a nasty knock for many reasons and take hours or days to recover from. Diarrhoea, air travel, alcohol consumption, sun exposure and even the food you eat can dehydrate the system – so keep drinking that water!
#5: Drinking like a Brit abroad
Once upon a time, we Brits were famous for good manners, fantastic queuing skills and passion for ruining perfectly good tea. These days we’re better known for rowdy behaviour, fantastic puking skills and passion for ruining perfectly good travel destinations – just ask the locals.
No need to be a buzzkill about it, just respect that locals are probably not that interested in your partying ways – stay aware enough to avoid hurting yourself, someone else or waking up the next morning cuddled up to a stranger in a police cell.
#6: Not having the right cover
There’s no reason you shouldn’t go kitesurfing in the Maldives or swimming with stingrays in Mexico, but it’s a good idea to make sure your insurance policy covers your plans. Being unlucky enough to get hurt is one thing; not being able to get treated or facing huge medical bill is something else entirely.
#7: Letting those daft moments get the better of you
No matter which travel insurance policy you carry, there are certain things no insurance firm will cover. Hilarious stunts like balcony dives area poor choice anyway, and being drunk or otherwise intoxicated will often leave you facing the bill too – assuming you don’t crack your skull open first.
#8: Forgetting to relax
Holidays are supposed to be relaxing, so you can go back home feeling refreshed and ready to take on the daily grind once again. Easier said than done though, because holidays have a surprising knack for becoming quite stressful.
Some relaxation tips:
- Leave your phone off as much as possible, or on airplane mode so that incoming messages can’t get to you
- Enjoy some time to yourself – no matter how much you love your travel buddies, a few hours of solo wandering or a meal in a café by yourself can be necessary and refreshing
- Accept that local customs, manners and expectations might be different to yours, so try to go with the flow
#9: Not getting enough sleep
A lack of sleep affects us in more ways than you might realise and the disadvantage of jet lag can put a real dampener on your holiday. Sadly, the only natural cure is a solid sleep pattern, but check out this free Jet Lag Rooster tool that helps you adjust your sleep pattern to reduce jet lag.
#10: Air travel sickness
Commercial flying may be the safest way to get around, but there are still a few health hazards you want to fend off – mostly due to recycled air, deep vein thrombosis and scores of potential sneezers, coughers and whatever else comes to mind.
- Keep hydrated
- Carry some nutritious food with you, rather than relying on the often carb- and salt-heavy in-flight options
- Bring your own travel pillow to snuggle on
#11: Differing food prep standards
Hygiene standards aren’t the same all over the world, and for western travellers, some holiday spots will call for more care than others. It’s nothing to panic about, but certainly something to consider and take suitable precautions, such as taking beverages without ice and making sure you feel confident in the cleanliness of any restaurants. Don’t let these worries hold you back, though – street food can be a real joy of travel, and as long as your snacks are freshly prepared and cooked hot in front of you, you should be just fine.
#12: Overseas air quality
Air quality can also take a nosedive when you travel, due to traffic volume, different grades of fuel and a range of industrial and environmental factors. This is particularly true of developing regions – Chinese air pollution travels as far as South Korea on an annual basis, for example.
Cases like these and <arel=”nofollow” href=”https://www.google.co.kr/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CBwQFjAAahUKEwiWuYX077fHAhWlLaYKHURgBR8&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.lonelyplanet.com%2Fthorntree%2Fforums%2Fasia-thailand%2Ftopics%2Fburning-season-in-february&ei=iuTVVZbMGqXbmAXEwJX4AQ&usg=AFQjCNFIOYabJj2RCtA79IiJFyAwD3urpw&bvm=bv.99804247,d.dGY”>”Pai burning” in Thailand are often seasonal and quite avoidable, however, with a little bit of research.
#13: Falling victim to crime
Okay, so this one is more psychological than anything, but even petty crime can feel devastating on foreign soil. Luckily, these things rarely happen, but there are a few things you can do to reduce the risk even further:
- Don’t show off your phones or cameras for everyone to see
- Leave your wallet/purse with the hotel front desk, and carry only enough cash to see you through the day
- Keep enough loose change to pay for things in your pockets and stash larger amounts in harder-to-reach pockets
- Always tell people before you go anywhere alone
Chances are you’ll never have to worry about any of the health issues on this this, no matter how much you travel, but it always pays to be aware of potential risks. After all, none of us ever want to actually use that travel insurance we bought!