With summer just around the corner many of us will be turning our thoughts to a precious week or two in the sun and the last thing you need, is to fall ill on your much longed-for travels. Whether it’s a bout of ‘holiday tum’, unwelcome attention from biting insects or simply a matter of feeling ill from the journey, a dream holiday can soon turn into a holiday from hell.
But, with a little forward planning (and often a large portion of common sense), there’s every reason why this year’s holiday can be a memorable one for all the right reasons.
- As a general rule of thumb, the risk of falling ill abroad is usually greater in hotter countries partly because it is so much harder to preserve food. Don’t eat anything that looks undercooked or raw and peel any fruit you eat. If you can, avoid buffet food that may not have been kept at the right temperature.
- Support your digestive system with a live bacteria supplement before and when you travel. This will help to establish the right environment within which important infection-fighting bacteria can flourish, giving you protection during your travels.
- By far the most common cause of tummy trouble abroad and diarrhoea especially, is dirty or contaminated water. Only drink bottled or canned drinks and don’t assume the tap water in your hotel is safe to drink. Remember also not to use ice in your drinks.
- If you do succumb to ‘holiday tum’, drink plenty of water to help prevent dehydration. Experts recommend between two and three litres a day, especially if you’re in a hot climate. A top tip is to replace lost fluid with an isotonic solution; one which contains the same electrolyte concentrations as normal body fluids.
- For the treatment of gastrointestinal illnesses causing stomach aches, nausea, vomiting, flatulence, heartburn and diarrhoea, try Silicea Gastro Intestinal Gel Direct (£13.59 for 15 sachets, www.healthy2u.co.uk). Available in handy travel-sized sachets, the gel binds with pathogens, gases and toxins, and is excreted naturally by the intestine.
- Repel unwanted attention! If you know mosquitoes and biting insects are likely to be a problem in the country you’re travelling to, a good insect repellent on exposed skin should help. Garlic eaten on a regular basis, can also have a repellent effect and should make you smell less appetising to hungry insects. Of course in some parts of the world, such as Africa and South America, you’ll need to take proper precautionary measures before you travel.
- Dare to bare? Ah, sunshine. We worship faithfully at every given opportunity yet overexposure is both damaging and dangerous. Always wear a good SPF, avoid sitting in the sun when it’s at its strongest and prepare your skin before you travel.
- A strong immune system for when you travel is also important. The stuffy confines of an airplane cabin are the perfect breeding ground for germs, especially if you’re cooped up for two to three hours at a time. Stop germs in their tracks with Hübner’s ImmunPRO Infection Blocker (£7.95 for 15 tablets, www.boots.com). It works by creating a physical barrier in the mouth and throat against germs and viruses and is ideal for when close contact with other people is unavoidable. Simply suck one tablet when you are at increased risk for two hours’ protection.
- Not a good traveller? If travel sickness is a problem, sit in the middle of the plane or ship, where the least motion can be felt. Taking ginger before and during travel can also help.
- Keep ’em clean! Germs on hands can be passed easily to other people by direct touch or indirectly by touching contaminated objects. It is therefore important to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, especially after every visit to the toilet and prior to eating or preparing food. Experts recommend spending at least 15 seconds – about the time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday to You’ twice through – to wash hands properly.
Now where did you put that passport…?