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Top tips for staying healthy on holiday

When you’re travelling on holiday, the last think you want to do is become unwell and be unable to enjoy your break to the full.

To help you steer clear of any unexpected health problems we’ve put together some top tips to help you stay in the best shape possible and have the time of your life wherever you are.


Sun safety

You might be hoping to spend endless hours soaking up the sun with the hope of returning home with a golden, but in reality spending too much time in the sun is dangerous and can lead to sun burn and possibly much worse.

To protect your skin it’s vital you apply sun cream to all parts of your skin that are exposed to the sun. It’s recommended by the British Association of Dermatologists that the lowest sun protection factor (SPF) that you should use is 30.

You should also try to cover as much of your skin as possible, wearing a wide brim hat to shade your face, neck and ears, as well as loose, long sleeve tops and trousers or a long skirt that keep out the sun.

Of course the best wear to avoid sun burn is to stay in the shade, especially when its rays are at their strongest between 11am and 3pm.

Heat exhaustion can also be a problem when visiting hot countries and if not treated can turn into heat stroke.

To prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke, the NHS advises that you should keep yourself hydrated with plenty of cold drink, wear light-coloured loose clothing, take cool baths and showers, avoid drinking too much alcohol, avoid doing too much exercise and stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm.


Image: Oziel Gómez on Unsplash

Food for thought

When it comes to dining out while travelling abroad, you need to be wary as food and water are to blame for many of the illnesses that affect holidaymaker.

However, there are a few precautions you can take to limit the risk to your health.

Advice from the NHS states that you should only eat freshly prepared food that has been cooked thoroughly and is steaming hot.

You should also avoid raw or undercooked shellfish and seafood and steer clear of uncooked fruits, vegetables and salads in countries with poor sanitation.

Food that has been left standing and exposed to flies and warm temperatures should be avoided, as should unpasteurised dairy products.

As a general rule, you should always wash your hands after going to the toilet and before preparing and eating food.

When it comes to water, you should avoid drinking or brushing your teeth with tap water from any countries with poor sanitation. Only drink filtered, bottled or treated water. Hot drinks are safe, but avoid ice drinks.



Bites and stings

Bugs and insects can be more than just a nuisance to holidaymakers, causing painful bites and stings that can become infected, cause allergic reactions or lead to more serious illnesses such as malaria and Lyme disease.

However, there are a few simple steps you can take to limit the risk of being bitten or stung while on holiday.

If you are come into close proximity with bees, wasps or hornets, the NHS recommends that you should stay calm and move away slowly without trying to swat them.

To avoid being bitten you should try to wear long sleeves, trousers and shoes when outdoors, as well as applying insect repellent to any exposed skin. Repellents containing 50 per cent DEET (diethyltoluamide) are most effective.

Using soaps, shampoos and deodorants with strong perfumes should also be avoided as these can often attract bugs.

You should also be wary around flowers, plants, rubbish, compost and stagnant water.

If you are travelling to a country where malaria is a problem, you may need to take antimalarial tablets. You should seek advice from a health professional prior to travelling.



Just the jab

Depending on where you are travelling, you may need to be vaccinated against some of the diseases found in the country you are visiting.

If you are unsure about travel vaccinations you should speak to your GP well in advance of travelling. The NHS advises up to 8 weeks, as some vaccinations need time for your body to develop immunity, or multiple doses may also be needed over a number of weeks. You should also make sure your UK jabs are up to date.

Good advice

Where ever you’re going on holiday, you should always make sure you have the right travel insurance, ensuring your policy covers the country you are travelling to, the time you are away and any specific activities you could be taking part in.

If you’re travelling in Europe, you should also make sure you have a valid European Health Insurance Card. This entitles holders to free or reduced cost medical care. However this does not cover you for everything travel insurance does.

Be prepared

Even if you do follow every piece of advice on staying healthy on holiday there is still a chance on a mishap.

However, packing a few basic first aid essentials may lessen the impact of any small accidents. The NHS suggests you should include plasters, bandages, sterile dressing, insect repellent and bite treatment, tweezers, antiseptic, antihistamine, thermometer and painkillers. It also advises that you remember to pack medication for any pre-existing medical conditions, ensuring you have enough to last the whole duration of you holiday.