Healthy travel

If you are planning to travel to a foreign countries you should be aware of any health risks before you leave; this may involve researching common illnesses in the countries you are visiting, checking if you need any vaccinations before you leave and arranging to collect any additional medication or equipment which help to prevent you from getting ill while on your travels.


If you are travelling abroad you should find out whether you need any vaccinations before you leave; you should consult your GP or the practice nurse for advice. Generally, if you are travelling to other European destinations or countries such as North America, Australia and New Zealand, you should be fine; however, it is a good idea to check before you go. If you are heading further afield you will almost certainly need some additional injections; hepatitis A is recommended for most foreign travellers, while those who have not had a BCG will usually be advised to have one to protect against tuberculosis. People travelling to South America, parts of Asia and most parts of Africa may need to have vaccinations against typhoid, tetanus, polio, cholera and yellow fever; if you haven’t had the MMR vaccination you may also be required to have this injection as measles can be particularly common in these parts of the world. Travellers to the Far East may also need an immunisation against Japanese encephalitis. You may also need to take a course of anti-malaria tablets with you.

Travel advice

Drinking water

If you are travelling to destinations outside of Western Europe, which are not in North America, Australia or New Zealand you should generally not drink the water from the tap; even in some European countries the water is not considered safe to drink so you should research this before you leave. Stick to bottled water and avoid eating foods which could have come into contact with contaminated water; common examples of these include fruits and salad leaves, which may have been washed with unclean water. Do not eat or drink something you are not sure of because the local people are eating or drinking it; they will have a much better resistance to it than you will so take care at all times. Ensure you drink plenty, especially if you are in a hot or humid climate; this will prevent dehydration and enable your body to function effectively.

Preventing illness

In some countries the risks of you getting ill will be high so try to take precautions to reduce these risks; you may be able to take equipment out with you which may help treat an illness or even save your life. If you are going to an area where malaria is prevalent, take a course of anti-malaria tablets with you and wear strong mosquito repellent; you should avoid damp areas such as rivers or swamps and sleep in a net at night to avoid getting bitten. Try to stay away from areas of high population density and steer clear of waste areas and stagnant water; the risk of catching an illness in these areas is high so be sensible and try to stick to well-trodden routes.

Medical Kit

It is a good idea to take a small medical kit with you if you are travelling abroad; this should usually contain a number of sterile dressings and plasters, some adhesive tape, some supplies of clean drinking water or some water purification tablets, sterile gloves, some sterile liquid to wash wounds, a course of antibiotics, anti-malaria tablets (if required), over the counter pain relief and antidiarrheal medication. If you are already on medication for an existing condition, ensure that you have a sufficient supply before you leave and make sure all prescription drugs are clearly labelled.


In hot countries you should take care to protect yourself from the sun and keep hydrated. You should wear sun cream at all times and try to avoid sun exposure between midday and 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Try to drink as much water as possible and keep your body cool by having cold showers or going for a swim. If you want to sunbathe put on a high factor cream, drink plenty and lie out in short spells; this will prevent you from getting burnt and from suffering from heat stroke. Heat stroke is primarily caused by dehydration and a high internal body temperature; it can be very serious so should always be treated as an emergency condition. Symptoms of heat stroke include a soaring temperature, nausea, headaches and muscle cramps, extreme fatigue and dizziness.

Other advice

Take care to plan ahead as this will ensure you cater for all eventualities. If you are going on holiday, exercise the same caution with reference to alcohol, drugs and sexual relationships as you would at home. Make sure any activities you undertake or any equipment you use are safe and covered by insurance; most accidents on holiday occur on the road so be careful.