My 6 steps to protect health before going on holiday!

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I have finished planning our next holiday (can't wait!) and realised that we book flights, accommodation and plan what to do on holiday but through that excitement may forget to ensure that our health is protected during the trip. So yes, this blog entry is about more boring stuff but crucial one- health protection and what I do before going on holiday!

1. Vaccinations

Some travel destinations areas will have increased risk of infectious diseases, e.g. yellow fever, than others. Some countries will not allow you to enter without a certificate of required vaccinations. I use this trustworthy website, TravelHealthPRO, that has everything you need to know about vaccination requirements for each country.

travel health website nathnac

Select ‘’Country Information” and then your travel destination from the alphabetical country list. The information page about the country will appear, e.g. Brazil in the example. The page will give you general information about the country and health advice. The “Vaccine recommendations’’ will tell you what, if any, vaccination certificates are required, what vaccinations are recommended and why.

Page with travel health information for Brazil.

Some vaccines may need to be administered 6 to 4 weeks before the trip, so it can’t be a last minute thing to do! If unsure or need more information, always check with your pharmacist or doctor.

2. Malaria

Malaria is a serious infectious disease transmitted by small and innocently looking mosquitos. The symptoms such as shivering, headache, nausea & vomiting, and aching muscles can appear even a year after the trip! It is mainly a risk at tropical areas of the world in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Hispaniola, the Middle East and Oceania. Some areas have malaria risk all year round and some only during particular seasons. Same country may have different levels of malaria risk, e.g. rural areas high risk and urban areas lower risk. Before we go, I check what malaria risk is at travel destination and take appropriate prevention. The TravelHealthPro website is great for information and advice. Malaria is preventable disease and there ABCD steps:

-Awareness, know how to recognise malaria

-Bite prevention

-Chemoprophylaxis (antimalarial medicines), if required

-Diagnosis, see doctor urgently if you suspect malaria!

Some antimalarial medicines need to be started several weeks before the trip for full protection, so make sure you are aware what malaria risk and prevention is required for your travel destination. Always consult with your pharmacist or doctor, if you require chemoprophylaxis or have health problems.

3. Holiday medicine bag

I like to have a small medicine bag for minor ailments that may happen during the trip. This way I don't need to worry where to find a pharmacy or about the language barrier in the case of a bad tummy or a headache, which can ruin your holiday.

Things that I like to have:

  • Pain relief. Simple analgesics like paracetamol and ibuprofen are great for minor aches and pains and minor ailments like common cold to reduce pain and high temperatures. Always check with pharmacist, if they ok for you.
  • Oral Rehydration salts. It is a must for hot destinations to prevent you becoming dehydrated. It helps to restore your body's natural fluid and mineral balance and reduce discomfort and tiredness. Therefore, it is great to have in case you are unlucky and develop diarrhoea or vomiting and thus loose fluid and minerals, and become dehydrated.
  • Anti-diarrhoea tablets (loperamide). Help to relieve the unpleasant symptoms of diarrhoea. You can get diarrhoea without a warning from food poisoning or stomach bug; so handy to have them just in case.
  • Activated charcoal. We find this great for tummy troubles like nausea and vomiting. The charcoal absorbs toxins in your stomach and intestine, which is safely excreted through bowels.
  • Plasters! Blisters...

And for ladies only: I always have cystitis relief sachets with me on holidays that include lots of swimming. The bacteria can collect in your swimsuit and hence cause simple urinary tract infection. I like to have them just in case other prevention means like showering and changing to dry clothes/swimsuit after swim, and drinking lots of water, fail.

4. Stay Hydrated!

I always have water with me and it is actually my favourite drink. This step is simple, just keep hydrated during your holiday! It is even more important, if you are on holiday somewhere hot or staying active. Water is ideal but fruits/vegs like watermelon, cucumber, strawberries containing lots of water are great choice too. Just a note that alcoholic drinks are no good in keeping you hydrated.

5. Sun protection

Even short exposure to sun rays can cause sunburn. Sunscreen is the best guard against the harmful sun rays; so pack some and don't forget to apply it regularly! In some parts of Europe you may get away with SPF+15 but I always have SPF+30 and SPF+50 for very hot destinations. Also, when sun is strong I try to be in the shade or cover up with clothes, a hat and sunglasses. 

6. Travel Insurance

Lastly, we get travel insurance for trips outside the Europe. For Europe trips we are fine (at the moment) with the European Health Insurance Card as we live in the UK. If you don't have one yet, you can get one for free by completing an application online (click here). If you are from other European country, you should be able to obtain one for free too.

What do you do to protect your health before going on holiday? Share with me in the comments below

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