Taking care of yourself on the road: Planning a healthy trip

Whether you have a long-term medical condition or simply want to ensure you maintain tip-top health during your holiday, there are plenty of things you can do to prepare – from simple hydration and basic remedies to travelling with more complex applications (such as Insulin or oxygen).

Wherever you’re going to

OK, you’re going on holiday and you want to relax, but before you switch into holiday mode, there are health-related preparations to consider. What’s more, these may vary depending on which country/environment you’re travelling to.

Basic health checklist for any destination.

  • Consider environmental differences such as temperature, humidity and altitude – all of which can have huge physical effects.
  • If holidaying in a remote area, always leave an itinerary and contact numbers with family and friends (arranging check-in times at regular intervals).
  • Have you researched and had location-appropriate vaccinations? Protection against diseases such as typhoid, hepatitis A, hepatitis B and yellow fever are amongst some of the most common to consider. Remember that your tetanus and polio may need boosting and tuberculosis might require a review. Your GP will be able to advise on the immunizations relevant to specific locations.
  • It’s important to remember that different destinations have varying restrictions on controlled medicines – check which rules apply and if possible always carry medication in your hand luggage.
  • If you have a long-term health condition, consult with your doctor before travelling, ensuring he or she knows exactly the destination you are going to. It is vital you follow destination appropriate medical advice and that all conditions are reported to insurers before travelling.


Medication and medical equipment allowed on flights and how to prepare

Air travel raises many questions about how, where and when medication can be transported. With so many issues to cover, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions and answers:

Q. Are liquid, aerosol or gel medications allowed on a flight?

  1. Liquid, aerosol and gel medical supplies are exempt from general restrictions (even storage equipment and cooler/heat packs are ok). However, it is important to take only the amount needed for the duration of the flight.

Q. Will I need written confirmation from my doctor?

A. You can never be too prepared, as many airlines will ask for supporting documentation such as ID cards and GP letters. Ensure all prescription medication is labeled and relevant details match those on your flight tickets.

Q. I need to take a prescribed hypodermic needle onto the plane – do I need documentation?

A. Whether you or your carer are taking hypodermic needles onboard, it’s vital to inform the screening officer and cabin crew – medical certification must be presented. Likewise, if you have a pacemaker fitted, it is important to inform the screening officer at the airport.

Q. Are inhalers allowed on the flight?

A. Inhalers are okay to take onto the plane; however, spare canisters must be kept in your checked baggage.


Local healthcare in the location you’re visiting

Upon arriving at your destination it’s a good ideatofamiliarize yourself with the location of the closest pharmacy and medical center – checking basics such as opening times and whether translation services are in place.

Remember to have all health insurance documentation ready in case of emergency. Don’t forget that whilst you may be entitled to free medical assistance in one country, you might find similar entitlement in others – be aware and be prepared before travelling.

Common conditions – strong allergies and how to deal with them on a trip

Numerous common ailments unfortunately result from travelling to alternative climes, for example prickly heat due to higher temperature and dehydration caused by a bout of holiday diarrhea.

However, there are things you can do to ensure these everyday complaints don’t spoil your trip.

  • Antihistamines (eg, chlorphenamine 4 mg x 10) – suitable for prickly heat, reactions to insect bites, hives and basic allergies.
  • Serious allergy sufferers at risk of anaphylactic shock must always have epinephrine (adrenaline) with them.
  • Paracetamol 500 mg x 10 – a common staple for headaches, muscular pain, period discomfort and slight temperature.
  • Indigestion remedy (eg, ranitidine) 150 mg: 10 tabs – useful especially after eating rich foreign foods.
  • Dioralyte oral rehydration salts x 10 sachets – important for rehydration following sickness or diarrhea.
  • Insect repellent (ideally containing at least 20% DEET) – prevention is better than cure, so protect yourself before being bitten.
  • Water, water, water – keeping hydrated is a simple yet effective way to combat many ailments before they occur and whilst recovering from complaints.

It is essential to remember that children may react differently to adults when suffering illness (especially abroad). Don’t forget that dosages and applications of remedies must be given in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions.

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