When travelling you may well find yourself victim to insect bites, sun burn and an upset stomach from time to time. However, you can reduce the risk of traveller’s diarrhoea, illness and disease when travelling, by following some of these simple travel health tips.
Good hand hygiene when travelling can go a long way to preventing illness, and will help to reduce the risk of contracting Traveller’s Diarrhoea. Always wash your hands before a meal and after using the toilet. When water isn’t available, ensure you use hand sanitising gel to clean your hands. It’s also wise to clean your hands after handling currency.
Drinking & Eating
The things we eat and drink when travelling can have a serious effect on our health, from an upset stomach and vomiting to more serious water-borne diseases such as Cryptosporidium & Giardiasis. These illnesses can be avoided if you take precautions when it comes to eating and drinking.
In many countries around the world, the purity of the water cannot be trusted, so you should ensure you only drink bottled water or treat the water with water purification products.
Water can be treated using chemical water treatment products, such as Chlorine tablets, or Chlorine Dioxide drops. If you would prefer a quicker method of treating water, you can use a water filter purification device.
Boiling water for 1 minute should be sufficient to kill harmful organisms that cause illness, but where heavy microbiological contamination is suspected, you may want to consider boiling it for a longer period of time.
Most hot drinks such as tea and coffee are safe to drink, but avoid milk unless you are certain it has been pasteurised. If you are unsure, you can boil milk before you drink it.
There are a few simple rules when it comes to choosing the food you eat abroad, which can help you dodge a bout of Delhi Belly, or worse.
- Aim to eat where the locals do, or restaurants that appear to be busy, this is always a good sign of the food quality.
- Avoid eating food that has been sat out for long periods of time, as this offers the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which will easily multiply in hot climates.
- Avoid salads and vegetables that may have been washed with contaminated water, and always opt for fruit that you can peel yourself.
- Avoid unpasteurised dairy products such as milk, ice cream and cheese.
- Avoid seafood dishes, as they may not have been cooked properly & could possibly contain contaminants from the water.
- Always eat food that has been cooked thoroughly, and ensure that it is piping hot when it is served.
Sun Protection & Hydration
Destinations such as Thailand benefit from a tropical climate, which means you will need to take measures to protect yourself from the sun. It is wise to avoid prolonged periods of time in the sun, especially when the sun is at its strongest.
- Always use a good quality sun cream with high SPF protection. You should also opt for a sun cream with both UVA and UVB protection, and ensure you apply this at least 30 minutes before you go out in the sun.
- Cover up with light and loose clothing to help keep you cool and prevent sun burn.
- Keep hydrated throughout the day and always pack a bottle of water in your bag.
- Take it easy – rushing around will only increase your body temperature & sweating and dehydrate you quicker.
- When laying on the beach, rent an umbrella or parasol to keep the sun off your head
- Wear a sun hat to protect your head, neck and face from the sun & heat.
Mosquitoes and other insects can cause pain and discomfort for travellers, or in some more serious cases, tropical diseases such as Malaria and Dengue Fever. There are a number of preventative measures you can take to help keep you free from painful insect bites and insect-borne disease when travelling.
- Always use mosquito repellent in areas where mosquitoes and other insects are present, and for high infestation and high risk malarial areas, always use a high strength DEET insect repellent.
- Sleep under a mosquito net on a night, one that has been treated with Permethrin or another form of insecticide will offer extra protection. You should also ensure that the net has a minimum of 156 holes per square inch, which is the recommended netting specification stated by the World Health Organisation.
- Wear long sleeved clothing when possible – mosquitoes are attracted to the wrists & ankles, as blood flows closest to the skin’s surface in these areas of the body.
- Avoid wearing bright colours as these attract insects.
You should also speak with your GP about anti-malarial medication if you are travelling to an area with a risk of Malaria.
Travel First Aid
It’s always worth packing a basic first aid kit for travelling, and this should contain a selection of bandages, dressings, plasters and anti-septic wipes. Other items you should consider packing in your first aid kit would be scissors, tweezers, diarrhoea relief tablets and oral rehydration salts.
For people travelling in remote areas, a set of sterile needles or a more comprehensive first aid kit containing sterile needles, syringes and an IV cannula are recommended. These items can be used in the event that you require emergency medical treatment, and would be passed to a medical professional, allowing them to treat you using sterile equipment.
A very special thanks to Rachel Keir from Gap Year Travel Store for this post, check them out for all your travelling essentials @ www.gapyeartravelstore.com