There are many factors to consider in order to keep us healthy as adults, especially when travelling. We’ve rounded up some essential travelling advice to keep you covered whether you are having a staycation or are going on a more exotic and remote trip.
Check safety advice
Always check safety advice before you go. Useful sources of information are the Foreign Office website which offers regularly updated travel advice. Another good suggestion is to read TripAdvisor reviews (or similar). These reviews can flag up recent and concerning issues which may not sound important such as the cleanliness of beaches etc but can have a big impact on your enjoyment on holiday.
Have a plan
Be aware of political issues, possible terrorism alerts and natural disasters – and always have a plan.
For example, in Colombia and Guatemala – there are earthquake and volcano plans – so do read the advice before you head on your trip and do register for local alerts, such as Tsunami alerts.
Snake and spiders
Similarly do your homework before you go about poisonous creatures such as any snakes and spiders which you may encounter. Also consider contagious diseases we may not have in the UK. Be cautious and think ahead about vaccinations and malaria prophylaxis.
Adapt your first aid kit
Do take a first aid kit – specifically adapted for the country you are visiting and the activities you are undertaking. For example, if you are heading to a country where you may be worried about the sterility of the needles, then take a more invasive kit of your own. Or if you are going to be doing lots of water sports, taking waterproof dressings can be useful.
Take additional amounts of any prescription medication you may need and carry it in your hand luggage. This is in case your main luggage is delayed or your flights are interrupted. Or if your luggage is lost by the airline.
Be aware that if you need an Epipen, you may need an accompanying letter for your medication from your doctor. This letter will confirm you have an allergy and need to carry a Epipen. A sample letter can be downloaded from the internet.
Stay in contact
If you are travelling as a group do make a contingency plan for meet ups.
Set up a WhatsApp group so you have another way of communicating if there is no WiFi.
Switch on the Find Your Friends facility on your smart phone so you can track each other. You can always turn the function off when your holiday is over.
Know your emergency numbers
Always know your emergency numbers wherever you are. Find out who gives the emergency care and how to contact them. Don’t wait for an emergency to do your research. Is there a hospital? How far is it to get there and what facilities do they have?
Read our additional article on getting in touch with the emergency services when you are on holiday here.
You may want to try some exciting new activities when you are on holiday but you need to check – are they covered by your insurance? Sometimes zip lining, canyoning, quad biking, snorkeling, riding motorcycles etc.. requires an additional premium, or isn’t covered.
Vaccinations for travellers
The vaccines you need when travelling depend on factors such as your age and lifestyle, any medical conditions you have, where you plan to travel, plus which vaccinations you’ve had in the past.
In general, if you’re only travelling to countries in northern and central Europe, North America or Australia, you are unlikely to need any vaccinations.
However, do check you’re up-to-date with routine vaccinations available on the NHS.
Vaccines for specific times
Vaccines may also be required for specific periods of time. For example, the Saudi Arabian government stipulates you need the meningococcal vaccination – but only for travel during the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, and Umrah pilgrimages.
Possible risk factors
If you are working as an aid worker or in a medical setting may require additional vaccinations as you are likely to come into contact with more diseases.
Bear in mind too, that if you are abroad with animals, you may be more at risk of getting diseases spread by animals, such as rabies. Furthermore, the rabies vaccine is also indicated if you are planning to be in remote areas for a prolonged period, or if you are having an adventurous holiday with animal interaction.
Remember you may be more at risk of some diseases, for example:
- if you’re visiting rural areas,
- staying in hostels
- on a long trip – not just a package holiday
- or if you have a pre-existing health problem
These travel vaccines are free:
These travel vaccines are available free on the NHS if your GP practice is signed up to provide vaccination services.
- polio (given as a combined diphtheria/tetanus/polio jab)
- hepatitis A
You have to pay for travel vaccinations for:
- tick-borne encephalitis
- tuberculosis (TB)
- hepatitis B
- Japanese encephalitis
- meningitis vaccines
- yellow fever
If your GP is not signed up then your options are either a private travel vaccination clinic or a pharmacy offering travel healthcare services.
Yellow Fever maybe compulsory
Some vaccinations are important if you are travelling to a country where certain diseases have yet to be eradicated.
Additionally, if you are heading to the developing world you could be exposed to illnesses you’d never find at home.
For example, if you are visiting parts of sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America, the Yellow Fever vaccination is compulsory.
In fact, you must show proof of this inoculation if it is a requirement to enter the country, and you won’t get in without it.
Voluntary vaccines but advised
Outside of this, all other vaccines are voluntary, but advised.
If you are pregnant – or think you could be – or you breastfeeding do consult your doctor before having any vaccinations.
Also consult your GP if you are receiving treatments which affect your immune system such as chemotherapy.
If possible, see your GP or a private travel clinic at least two or three months before you’re due to travel. This is because some vaccines need to be given well in advance to allow your body to develop immunity.
NHS for vaccines
For the latest up to date information check the NHS web site for details about what you may need for your destination.
Further reading on the NHS website click here:
To find out which jabs you need for which country click here:
To read our article on 15 really good reasons to get vaccinated click here.
First Aid for Life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information. It is strongly advised that you attend a First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.