Your flights are booked, you’ve stocked up on sunscreen and you’re gearing up for a relaxing getaway with the family. Possibly the last thing on your mind when you’re preparing for a well-earned break is illness or injury.
Unfortunately though, there’s a risk that you or one of your loved ones will get sick while you’re away from home, potentially turning a dream vacation into a holiday from hell. I'm sorry to say, we have learned this the hard way and for a while it seemed we could not enjoy a family holiday without a trip to the nearest hospital.
We've had one child who fell from monkey bars within ten minutes of arriving on our campsite - two broken arms. We had a child who slipped on the bottom step of our holiday home breaking his leg within an hour of arriving and we've had one child having stitches in a Cypriot hospital after opening a patio door on his own foot on the first day of our holiday.
We now spend the first day of any holiday feeling very nervous although our last one was thankfully incident free apart from some grotesque insect bites!
To reduce the risk of health issues spoiling your fun when you’re abroad, it’s worth taking these five tips on board.
1. Pay attention to food hygiene
Food poisoning is bad news whenever it happens, but it’s especially unpleasant if it strikes while you’re on holiday.
As personal injury claims experts Jefferies Solicitors note on their website, it’s not uncommon for holidaymakers to suffer food poisoning when they are staying in resorts or hotels. The company also points out that in all-inclusive resorts where guests tend to eat in the same places and buffets are common, poisoning outbreaks caused by poor hygiene or cooking standards can be widespread.
There are ways to reduce your risk of getting ill though. For example, if you’re travelling to a country with poor sanitation, avoid tap water and don’t have ice in your drinks. Oh, and wash your hands frequently, especially if you've been feeding any local animals!
Stick to bottled water or other bottled or canned drinks instead. It’s also best to steer clear of fruit and vegetables that may have been washed in unsafe water, and don’t have any food that has been left to stand at room temperature or exposed to flies.
It’s best to avoid unpasteurised dairy products and raw or undercooked seafood too, and only have food prepared by street traders if it has been cooked recently and is served hot and with clean crockery.
2. Stay safe in the sun
Even if you’re looking forward to getting your vitamin D fix, make sure you take the issue of sun safety seriously. If you’re going somewhere hot, it’s best to spend time in the shade when the sun’s at its strongest between 11am and 3pm.
Cover yourself and your kids up with suitable clothing and sunglasses too, and make sure you apply lots of sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 15. I bought the children special T-shirts with UV protection built in to be extra safe - you can get cool designs for fashion conscious older kids nowadays.
If you’re planning to spend a long time in the sun, it’s best to apply cream twice before you leave, once around 30 minutes before you head out and again just before you step outside.
Remember to reapply your sunscreen frequently throughout the day too, and take extra care to protect children from the sun because their skin is especially sensitive.
3. Find out if you need travel vaccinations
Depending on where you’re going, you might need certain travel vaccinations to protect you from serious illnesses like typhoid, yellow fever and hepatitis A.
Don’t leave arranging these jabs until the last minute. Some vaccinations need to be given well in advance, so it’s advisable to seek advice from your GP or a travel clinic or pharmacy at least eight weeks before you’re due to set off.
4. Guard against DVT during your journey
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is a clotting of the blood, can be a serious and sometimes fatal condition, so it’s important that you take steps to guard against it.
The likelihood of you developing a blood clot rises if you spend long periods of time sitting down, so it’s something you’ll need to be particularly aware of if you’re taking long-haul flights.
You can take certain medicines to reduce the risk of clots forming and it also helps to wear compression socks. If possible, try to do some stretching exercises during your flight to encourage blood flow too, and stay hydrated. If you think you’re at particular risk of DVT, speak to your doctor before you travel.
5. Get suitable insurance
No matter how careful you are, there’s always a chance that you or another member of your family will get sick or suffer an injury abroad. So that you have access to healthcare if you need it, it’s important to take out suitable insurance. Before you sign up to a particular policy, make sure it covers your destination and any activities you plan to do while you’re away.
Next bit of advice - sit back and enjoy your holiday!
Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post.