As more and more of us plan our holidays away and book the tickets to far off places, there are some simple things we can do to ensure our time away goes without a hitch and we remain safe and injury and stress free. With a little forward planning, we can relax fully knowing that we are completely covered and have all the emergency essentials with us should, heaven forbid, something does go wrong. So where should we start?
Travel Insurance – Always make sure you have the minimum insurance required for the country you are visiting. The NHS recommends that all UK citizens have now the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which will cover you to free or low cost state health care in most European countries. You can pick them up at Post Offices and the best thing is they are free. This only covers you for medical problems however and should not be taken as a general travel insurance which will cover you for things such as lost luggage and stolen travellers cheques.
Vaccinations – If you are travelling to far flung places like Asia or Africa you will need to book appointments at least eight weeks before you go to make sure you have the proper vaccinations for the appropriate country. According to the NHS about one in four people have not been immunised when they visit countries that have health problems and as such face serious health risks. Check with your GP or nurse for your specific country to make sure you are up to date.
Medication – If you have to take regular medication make sure you have enough with you to last the duration of your holiday and a little left over for when you return. Put some in your hand luggage and check the rules when entering certain countries as some drugs are prohibited and you may have to declare them. Keep a special bag just for your medication so you can reach it quickly if necessary.
On the plane – On long haul flights it is important to move around a lot and if you can wear special socks that help with blood circulation. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is caused by a blood clot in the lower part of the leg which can break off and travel up to the lungs proving fatal. It is essential then you regularly flex and move your ankles and legs every so often to prevent this.
In the sun – Protect your skin, especially in hot countries by not sun bathing during peak hours such as 11am to 3pm and keep areas of your body covered up with a cotton t shirt. Use a higher than normal sun factor lotion than you would normally and apply more on the areas that see the sun such as shoulders and back and do not forget your face. Wear a sun hat and sun glasses to protect your eyes from sun damage. Drink lots of water whilst out in the sun. It is important to reduce the risk of dehydration so you should drink regularly from a bottled source and not from the local taps.
Emergencies – in the case of an emergency the Foreign Office recommends seeking out local medical advice as a first port of call. Your travel insurance should cover most expenses but if you are admitted to a hospital abroad then get in touch with the nearest British Embassy who will help you with any practical arrangements such as flights back home, contacting relatives in the UK and medical options.