June’s finally coming up and chances are, you’ve been planning your summer getaway for months now. You want everything to go perfectly – no missed flights, forgotten passports or lost luggage this time. Some of these things are perfectly avoidable and others just aren’t up to you. So which of these two categories does travel health fall into?
No one can deny that your health plays a crucial role in determining whether your holiday becomes a beautiful memory or a nightmare that you’d want to forget. A flu and even a bout of diarrhoea can perhaps be overcome with some grit and tolerance, but the moment you contract a serious disease like dengue or typhoid during your anticipated trip to India, your holiday is effectively over.
We at Clari Health believe that you should take every measure to keep yourself safe from travel health ailments – especially ones that are very much preventable! After all, it only takes a couple of minutes of your holiday time and some pre-trip preparation to avoid having your holiday ruined by ill health.
Here are some things that you should tick off your to-do list before and during your holiday in order to keep yourself healthy and less susceptible to common travel ailments:
Get yourself vaccinated
Remember, many diseases that are commonly contracted by travellers are preventable. All you have to do is schedule an appointment with your travel health professional or GP at least a month before you’re due to travel. Whether it’s cholera, influenza or yellow fever that you’re at risk of contracting in your holiday destination, there are vaccines that will give you immunity and prevent your trip from going awry.
Remember to go early to get your vaccine shots because it takes some time after you’re given the vaccine for you to develop immunity against the disease. And if you’re unsure about your immunity or if you think you may require a booster shot because it’s been a long time since you’ve gotten vaccinated, it’s best to speak to a travel health professional anyway so that they can advise you on how best to proceed. Some vaccines are only effective for a certain time period after all.
Exercise regularly and have a balanced diet
This one’s a bit of a no-brainer and should be practised whether or not you’re travelling. But it’s especially crucial for you to exercise and keep your meals nutritious a few weeks or even months before you fly off for your summer shenanigans. Exercise has many proven benefits and better immunity is one of them.
Your defense against illness and infection may not be great right now, but you can change that right away by going on a short run today or tossing your stash of chocolates and having an extra helping of vegetables during dinner instead.
Intense exercise isn’t necessary – just keep yourself active and do some cardio about two to three times a week. And eat those whole grains, fruits and vegetables instead of opting for pizza. It could make all the difference between a holiday ruined by the flu and a perfect one. You’ll thank yourself when you’re back!
Drink plenty of (safe) water during your trip
Many people underestimate the importance of remaining hydrated. Some take it for granted that water or drinks are readily available when they’re at home or working. When you’re on holiday, try to avoid falling into any of these two categories. You have to consciously remind yourself to drink water because when you’re on the move, you may not always have access to water.
It’s helpful to bring a water bottle with at least a capacity of one litre when you head overseas. This is crucial especially if the region you’re going to doesn’t have drinkable tap water. If you’re in a rural area, you won’t know when you’ll next get access to potable water, so fill up your bottle with water that you have confirmed to be safe for drinking (either bottled or thoroughly boiled and sterilised).
And remember to consciously drink that water every half an hour or so, especially if you’re wandering around under the hot sun. Dehydration makes you fatigued and with fatigue comes depressed immunity and an increased susceptibility to illness.
Bring hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes
You probably know by now that illnesses such as the flu are contracted via the transfer of bodily fluids such as mucus or spittle. The flu is extremely contagious and has the potential to upturn and ruin a week’s getaway, so take some precautions and sanitize, sanitize and sanitize some more. Before you touch anything that’s potentially been sneezed or coughed on, sanitize it. And before you bring your hands anywhere near your mouth or nose, sanitize them.
Be it the airplane armrest or the door handle in a washroom that you lay your hands on, remember to always sanitize them with alcohol gel afterwards (if you don’t have ready access to soap and water).
And before you touch any food item or drink as well, thoroughly sanitize your hands. This could save you the suffering you’d experience from not only the flu, but also traveller’s diarrhoea – you don’t know what germs you’re putting into your body along with your food, so it’s best to clean your hands beforehand.
Avoid Raw or Undercooked Food
Sure, poke bowls and sashimi are all the hype now, but to be cautious, you may want to avoid eating raw or undercooked food items during the period of your trip. Raw eggs and meat may contain the salmonella bacterium and you may be the unlucky one to contract this disease and suffer the consequences.
Moreover, raw seafood items, especially shellfish may also be unsafe to eat in many places as they may be contaminated with viruses or bacteria. Many people think salads and fruits are safe enough, but this is false – raw vegetables and fruits are just as likely to give you foodborne diseases, so opt for cooked vegetables and avoid fruit altogether when you’re in a region that isn’t best known for food safety.
As a blanket rule, go for food that’s served hot and if it’s meat or eggs that you’re consuming, check to see that they’ve been thoroughly cooked. Also avoid unpasteurised dairy items as they are similar to raw meat in that they can cause you to contract salmonella and a myriad of other diseases.
Bring Mosquito Nets and Spray and Opt for Antimalarials
Mosquito-borne illnesses are a real threat in many parts of the world so it wouldn’t hurt to take some precautions to avoid diseases such as dengue or malaria. These are diseases that can have severe consequences if not treated in time or for those whose immune systems are compromised, so you’d be wise to do all you can to prevent yourself from contracting them.
Bring mosquito spray or patches with you (preferably those that contain at least 50% DEET), especially if the region you’re travelling to has a high risk of transmission of malaria or dengue. You can also treat your clothes with permethrin and use mosquito nets to cover the area where you sleep to further reduce your chances of contracting the disease.
Opting for a course of antimalarials for the duration of your trip may also be wise as these significantly reduce your chances of falling victim to the malaria infection even if you get bitten by an infected mosquito. Contact your travel health professional or GP and fix an appointment with them a good month before your trip to work out your options and get recommendations and prescriptions for antimalarial pills.
Travel health makes or breaks your holiday so make sure to take all the necessary steps and precautions to make your holiday a safe and enjoyable one. If you haven’t already began preparing for your trip ahead, what are you waiting for? The earlier, the better!
Book an appointment with us now so that we can give you relevant travel health advice and fix you up with the necessary vaccines and antimalarials!