Getting sick whilst in foreign lands seem to go hand in hand, below is our 9 top tips on not getting sick abroad.
Before you depart your homeland you should be sorting yourself out with travel vaccines, you should start making appointments with your local travel clinic, specialist nurse or local GP around 8 weeks before you depart. Also check out the NHS 'Fit for Travel' page for more information on what vaccines you need for each country. At the travel clinic you will discuss what vaccinations you have already, what country or region you are visiting, and individual factors, such as your personal medical history, how long you will be travelling, and what you will be doing.
(I went to work straight after vaccines and my arm was dead, I needed an ice pack!)
If travelling to malaria prone countries your travel clinic will have provided you with the best malaria tablets to suit your needs, you must ensure you are take your malaria tablets at the correct time and don't forget to take them as they will not work.
Washing hands and sanitiser
You will probably want to be packing light but a few essentials in your bag should be 99.9% sanitiser which kills bacteria. That said you will be wanting to wash your hands with hot soapy water for at least 30 seconds, hand hygiene is essential to stop the spread of infection and can dramatically reduce your chance of diarrhoea, vomiting, food poisoning, gastroenteritis, flu, norovirus, MRSA, or even hepatitis A. Remember sanitiser can help but is not a replacement, but if you are sweaty on a dirty hot train with no access to water then sanitiser is great, also handy to carry around are wet wipes.
Ensure you drink plenty of fluids especially water. In most places drinking tap water is not an option, try buy bottled water- and when possible check it is still sealed- it could have been re-filled using tap water which is a popular scam.
Protection against the sun
The sun is magical, I thrive and live for it, the heat on my bones is the best medicine but it has so many dangers too. Make sure you are using suncream- do I need to explain how important sun cream is? Use SPF 15 minimum, re-applying throughout the day- especially if been in water.
Protecting yourself from the sun goes beyond getting sunburn though. You should also stay well hydrated if you are travelling in a country with a hot or tropical climate. Also cover up with loose clothing and even a hat or scarf. Dehydration can set in very quickly, and that can lead to more serious conditions such as exposure, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke, which if left unattended can become a medical emergency.
First aid kit
We also pack a small first aid kit, it won't take up much room and is a necessity, we have a few of each; ibroprofen, paracetamol, plasters, bonjella, germolene, blister pads, imodium, rennies and deet if in tropical climates for those pesky mosquitos.
Mosquitos are such a pain in the ass, the least they will do is annoy you with painful and itchy blotches but at worst they can transmit a whole variety of diseases, such as yellow fever and malaria. Even in low to no risk areas you still want to keep those pesky brats away, try stay in air conditioned rooms as they will be minimal there, if not then sleep under a mosquito net, you can even bring your own with you. Covering ankles, knees and elbows which they seem to thrive the most on with long loose clothing, and spraying deet regularly over yourself will keep them at bay.
Ensure meats are piping hot when served and although we love buffets we had a bad experience of food poisoning in Vietnam and put it down to a buffet we had- the food could have been sitting a while or brought out in a rush, always try to ensure food is piping hot and that food is freshly cooked. Trying new local foods whilst abroad is a great cultural experience- but do use caution and if you don't know what you are getting then opt for familiar foods. You could end up with diarrhoea, E. coli or Salmonella.
(definitely freshly made Vietnamese spring rolls, as I made them)
(can't go wrong with pizza, the buffet, trying chicken feet and local delicacies)
By staying fit and healthy your immune system and overall health and well being will make you less susceptible to illness, if you do get sick then your body should be able to fight of the infection more quickly.
Bear in mind this information is just our personal opinion and you must still make a personal consultation with a travel nurse specialist, or your GP regarding vaccines.