There should be a rule that you can’t get sick on holiday, but sadly this isn’t the case. You’ve spent half the year saving and looking forward to a break away from it all and the last thing you need is to spend precious holiday time on a sick bed.
Thankfully, most travels come off without a hitch, but you don’t want to leave this to chance and there are some holiday health essentials you need to think about.
Start with the basics
This isn’t a comprehensive list by any means and you may need things like a mosquito net or other bits for specific areas.
- first aid kit
- headache, diarrhoea pills, etc. (see below)
- insect repellent
You’ll find lists like this all over the internet though, so let’s take a look at some fresh pointers you may not have heard before.
Check if your bank does insurance
Many banks offer travel insurance of some sort to their customers, so check what the policy is with your bank before you buy it elsewhere. Just be sure to check the terms as you may only be covered for certain parts of the world for a small period only. If your bank’s insurance policy doesn’t cater for what you need then you’ll have to go elsewhere or, if you have snow or watersports in your plans, you’ll need a specific policy to cover it.
Get independent vaccination and health risk advice
You can get free advice from chemists on the areas you’re travelling to and which vaccinations you should get. Shots for diseases like Typhoid, Hepatitis A and even Rabies are recommended for much of Asia and Africa, but health risks around the world change constantly. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is still a global concern, but even things like the Malaria risk in some places can change – so get independent, up-to-date advice.
Speaking of Malaria, let’s not forget Dengue!
Mosquitos are the single biggest killer of humans around the world and the little buggers are just about everywhere these days. Not all mosquitos are equally as deadly though and it’s the ones carrying Malaria or Dengue fever you want to worry about. You can take tablets to prevent Malaria, but they come with some unappealing side effects and their effectiveness varies greatly. While there’s no preventative at all for Dengue fever and your only protection is to minimise bites. So cover your skin as much as possible and use repellent in areas where Malaria or Dengue are an issue.
Don’t obsess about the first aid kit
There’s noting wrong with stocking up on some first aid essentials – and you may well need some if you plan to wander off the beaten track. That said, you can find a chemist on just about every street in so many countries around the world (no NHS, remember!) and they’ll have everything you could ask for in the UK, plus so much more.
As a general rule, if you can’t drink the water where you’re headed, it might be a good idea to take some antiseptic cream to clean any small cuts and stop infections. Anything more serious than that and you’ll likely be calling on medical attention and your insurance policy anyway.
Check the drugs policy of your destination
If your idea of a holiday health checklist includes half the medicine cabinet then you better do your research. Ten paracetamol tablets are enough to cause you trouble at Dubai customs, while travellers carrying over-the-counter jet lag pills have even been arrested. Dubai isn’t alone either and much of Central and Southeast Asia comes with strict drug policies – many of which can land you in prison or death row! So check the drugs policy of any country before you pack your luggage.
The above steps will make it easier to stay healthy on your holidays, but most of the time it’s either bad luck or a silly moment that lands people in trouble. So as long as you keep your wits about you and don’t put yourself in needless danger, you should come back full of fond memories – just like the majority of holiday goers.