Travelling should be about having fun, experiencing incredible new destinations and going home feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. Unfortunately many of us end up getting sick while we are away, which can put a huge dampener on your adventures. Often it’s a result of being exposed to contaminated foods, unfiltered water, getting sunburned or bitten by mosquitoes! There’s nothing worse than getting sick on holiday, so here are our top 10 tips for avoiding getting ill when travelling because prevention is always better than a cure!
Prevention is always better than a cure, and one of the best ways to protect you from getting a disease is being vaccinated against it. Basically if you can protect yourself, it is a good idea to do so! Whilst there are a lot of countries and regions where you don’t require vaccinations, there are many where vaccinations are recommended so it is always best to get advice from your doctor before you travel.
AVOID BEING BITTEN BY MOSQUITOES
Mosquito bites would have to be one of the most annoying things ever. They are painful and itchy and can also transmit a wide range of diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis, just to name a few. Do yourself a favour and get a good insect repellent (with a decent percentage of DEET), as well as covering up and sleeping under mosquito nets where required. The best thing to do is protect yourself from being bitten, even if low-risk areas. In higher risk areas it is often recommended to take anti-malarial tablets, which is something your doctor would advise and prescribe for you.
KEEP YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM HAPPY AND HEALTHY
It is true that anyone can fall ill whilst travelling, but people with a strong immune system will be able to fight germs more easily. Simple factors such as plenty of sleep, exercise and a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables will help keep you fighting fit!
In addition, many travellers (including us) swear by vitamins! We always pack multivitamins and vitamin C when travelling, and find it helps to stop us getting sick or at least reduces the severity and length of our sickness.
DON’T OVERDO IT
This is something that we definitely don’t follow when we travel. However, it is important to get plenty of rest as tired people are more susceptible to becoming rundown and potentially ill! Similarly, take it easy on alcohol as it’ll have a similar impact on your body.
Staying hydrated is a major part of keeping healthy while travelling (and at home)! It is especially important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water when travelling on airplanes as the dry air on planes leads to dehydration. Dehydration in turn, can lead to health issues such as headaches, digestive problems, fatigue and much more.
DRINK BOTTLED OR FILTERED WATER
One of the most common causes of traveller’s diarrhea is drinking local water. In some countries, this could be from simply consuming drinks with ice made from local water, using tap water to clean your teeth or eating salads that have been washed with local water. If you have any doubts about the local water, drink bottled water with seals intact or use water purification tablets. We choose to use water bottles with built in filters both at home and abroad, which stops us buying water which helps to save money and the environment!
KEEP YOUR HANDS CLEAN
Yes it is common sense however many people forget to wash their hands, something that is so important in controlling the spread of infection, diseases and illness. Hand hygiene is essential and we always travel with hand sanitiser in the event there isn’t places to wash our hands, especially after going to the toilet or before eating.
RESPECT THE SUN
So many people rush out into the sun on holidays trying to get a tan and just end up sunburned. It’s essential to wear sunscreen, a hat and protective clothing, stay hydrated and slowly allow your body to get used to the sun. Sunburn can run a good holiday and in the worst cases, sunstroke will leave you incredibly ill.
WATCH YOUR FOOD
Sickness from food is something we’ve all experienced when travelling. I mean, they don’t call it Bali Belly for nothing! When travelling we listen to advice from other travellers about where to eat and often like to eat street food. When you eat street food, the food is often prepared fresh, served hot and you can see just how clean and good their hygiene practices are. It is unfortunately impossible to avoid an upset tummy sometimes when you are travelling, so we always travel with tablets for diarrhea, hydralyte for rehydration and a broad spectrum antibiotic for the worst case scenario! Some people swear by charcoal tablets too!
We’ve been there before and have learnt from each and every experience. From Giardia in Turkey, a stomach bug in Peru, a broken ankle in Thailand, being annihilated by mosquitoes in the Amazon to being burnt to a crisp on holiday in the South Pacific, we’ve definitely picked up a few things along the way to help us keep healthy on the road. However if you fall really ill, it is always wise to seek medical help. In the worst case scenario there are companies which can also assist with an air ambulance or medical repatriation, should the worst happen and you need to return home for treatment. Hopefully this will not happen to you on your holiday, and you’ll come home as refreshed as we did from our honeymoon in the Maldives!
All opinions are my own.