Whatever your destination, travel health experts recommend that you start planning your trip at least eight weeks before you travel. Before you set off on a round the world trip, check out these tips to stay healthy on your travels.
Firstly, find out from your doctor which vaccinations you need for your destination. A full protective course of vaccination protects you against a range of infectious diseases, including hepatitis A, typhoid and yellow fever. These diseases can make you very ill or even kill you, so don’t be tempted to skip vaccinations.
Remember that vaccinations are just part of staying healthy while travelling. Infectious diseases can also be transmitted through contaminated food and water. Avoid uncooked fruit and vegetables, unpasteurised milk and other dairy products and any food that has been kept at room temperature in tropical or sub-tropical climates.
Avoid drinking tap water in any country with poor sanitation. Drink bottled, filtered or boiled water instead. Similarly, don’t brush your teeth with water that cannot be guaranteed contamination-free and avoid ice in drinks.
Remember that alcohol and caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, tea and soft drinks, dehydrate you, so drink plenty of clean water to compensate. Dehydration can increase your susceptibility to infection and disease.
Good food and water hygiene practices can help you to avoid travellers’ diarrhoea and other illnesses. Nevertheless, you should pack some basic medications, including an anti-diarrhoea remedy, antihistamines for allergies and rashes, iodine, for cleaning cuts and grazes and painkillers.
Mosquitoes can transmit malaria, yellow fever and other diseases in tropical countries, such as Africa. Malaria can be prevented by taking a course of tablets, but can be fatal if left untreated.
Mosquitoes develop differing levels of resistance to anti-malarial drugs, so make sure that you have the correct tablets for your destination. Start taking them before you leave, take them regularly during your stay and continue taking them after you return.
Prevention is better than cure, so avoid the chance of being bitten by wearing loose, light coloured clothing that covers your arms and your legs. Regularly apply a good insect repellent and stay in mosquito-proof accommodation wherever possible.
When you’re travelling abroad, you may be tempted to consume all sorts of rich food and drink. However, there are many ways in which you can work off the extra calories without necessarily sticking to the same exercise routine you do at home. Some hotels have onsite gyms where you can work try and stay fit.
Try to walk wherever you can, but also look for other activities, such as cycling, swimming and water skiing, to vary your exercise regime. You can perform exercises such as press-ups or crunches anywhere, without equipment.
If you’re backpacking, the weight and resistance provided by your backpack can add difficulty to any exercise. Regular exercise will help you to relax, maintain your sleep pattern and keep you alert during your waking hours.
It’s also a good idea to research your destination, so you know how physically fit you need to be before you leave. If you travel to a popular beach resort with good public transport, you’ll probably need to be less fit than if you travel to somewhere more remote.
If you’re going backpacking or hiking, make sure that your boots fit correctly to reduce the likelihood of blisters. Blisters typically occur on the heels, toes or the soles of the feet, so you might also like to consider padded hiking socks.
If you feel a blister starting to form, stop immediately and apply moleskin – a soft, adhesive backed fabric – to the reddened area. If you don’t, it may develop into a full-blown blister than is very painful to walk on.
If you travel to sub-tropical or tropical regions, be aware of the effects of prolonged exposure to solar radiation. Apply high factor sun block to exposed parts of your body and wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face.