Whilst you may go to great lengths to make sure you’ve packed your favourite bikini and have enough shower gel for a small army, it’s important not to forget about your health when travelling abroad. From preventing DVT to getting vaccinated, there are lots of things to tick off on your holiday health checklist. Here are a few important pointers for you and your family to consider.
Trips to Western Europe, the US, Canada or Australia generally don’t require any travel vaccinations beforehand, but you should be cautious of travelling to most other places. The National Travel Health Network and Centre’s (NaTHNaC) interactive world map is a great online source that gives you up-to-date information about what vaccinations you will need when you travel to certain countries and also when to get them. You should plan well in advance for most vaccinations. Some need a minimum of six weeks to take full effect and could require more than one visit.
When it comes to the cost, not all vaccinations are available on the NHS and those that are, aren’t necessarily free of charge, so you could have quite a substantial investment on your hands. Once you know exactly what vaccinations you’ll need, shop around and compare your local NHS travel centres and private clinics to see who offers what and who has the best prices.
First Aid Kit
No matter where you’re going, having a well-prepared first aid kit with you will always be useful. Your checklist of health essentials should include:
High Factor Sun Screen
Plus the basic first aid equipment – plasters, fabric bandages, safety pins, painkillers, scissors, tweezers and tissues.
If you are travelling within the EU (including Switzerland and Norway) you will need a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This card has replaced the now obsolete E111 form and entitles the cardholder to standard medical treatments for free or at a reduced-cost. The EHIC will only cover you for the basics though, so you will still need travel insurance to cover the cost of emergency situations like mountain rescue or return flights home should you become delayed due to illness. If you are going skiing or carrying out any hazardous sports like climbing, ensure your travel insurance policy will cover these activities as most require an additional add-on for an extra price.
DVT, or deep vein thrombosis, is the formation of a blood clot in a deep vein that can be brought on by a range of things, including prolonged lack of movement – as is the case with long haul flights. If you are worried about DVT on your next flight, the best thing you can do is refrain from sitting in your seat for long periods of time and walk around the plane to stretch your legs as often as possible. Staying hydrated and wearing compression stockings during the flight have been shown effective at reducing the risk of DVT.
If you and your family are travelling to a hot destination during the peak summer season it’s important to stay protected from the sun. Skin cancer is caused by over-exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays and most cases can be prevented by just wearing plenty of sunscreen with a minimum SPF 20 that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Stay sun-smart by keeping covered with t-shirts, hats and sunglasses and ensuring you get plenty of shade during the hottest hours from 11am to 3pm.