Travel is good for your health! To venture out of your comfort zone is stimulating, with a change of scene bringing fresh sights and experiences, new cultures and cuisines, and perhaps the benefits of a kinder climate. All this should lift your spirits, which can help to improve your physical well-being, too, but attending to your travel health first will ensure a stress-free break.
Check The Area
Deal with anything that might worry you. Whether you are having a staycation or going abroad, it is worth noting the reviews of other travelers, and checking maps and ground views, particularly if you are traveling alone. Read blogs by visitors or locals. If you are hoping to eat out, investigate the numbers, types, and prices of local restaurants, while if you are in self-catering accommodation, do the same for shops. This will also help you to decide if this is the place for you.
We are all more careful about hygiene nowadays, and this is especially important when traveling. Follow the same rules that you do when out and about in your home area. Take plenty of anti-bacterial gel and a pocket-sized sanitizer. Use them frequently, and follow other rules recommended by health officials, such as avoiding touchpoints or bringing your hands to your face. There is no evidence that the air on a plane carries more germs than anywhere else, but if required to, wear a mask and keep your distance from others. The same goes for cruises — given the numbers of passengers, frequent hand-washing is very important.
Do not neglect other travel health issues. Remember to bring any medication you are taking, even if it is an over-the-counter remedy — it may not be readily available in other countries, and it will certainly be more expensive. Keep it handy for quick use or in case you lose it, and if you are going abroad, find out whether you need a doctor’s certificate for any prescribed drugs.
Whether or not you are a sun-worshipper, it is wise to protect yourself with a strong suncream and a hat. Copy the locals, who you will notice sitting and walking in the shade! Combat the effects of heat by seeking out cool spots and drinking plenty of water. When the sun goes down, the mosquitoes come out, so an insect repellent is a must, with perhaps a spray or plug-in unit for your room.
Check Before You Go
If you are lucky enough to be visiting far-off or exotic destinations, ask your doctor if you will need any injections, and make sure you get them done in plenty of time. In a tropical climate, anti-malarial protection is essential, so that is another question for the doctor or pharmacist. Buy adequate travel insurance for any situation that may arise, remembering that British holiday makers cannot necessarily rely on reciprocal treatment in Europe now that we have left the EU.
Check whether the location you intend to visit requires a visa (even if it is in Europe) and if so, apply for it well in advance. Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months, as this is a requirement in some countries. If you are driving, check on national regulations, allowing enough time to sort out the necessary documents and stickers.
Long haul flights may involve jet lag in one direction. If you are traveling forwards in time, it could hit you when you arrive, disrupting your sleep patterns. If you have a flexible lifestyle at home, gradually change your sleeping and eating times to adjust to those of your destination. Eye masks and earplugs can be helpful in transit, and also while you are away. On long flights, it is especially important to drink plenty of fluids, and perhaps to wear special socks to aid circulation.
If you respect your travel health by following these simple but practical tips, they will reduce anxiety and allow you peace of mind. You should not have anything to worry about when you arrive — just sit back and enjoy it!