Sun, Sea, Sand and… Sickness? Know The Health Risks When Travelling Abroad


Travel does you good – few people would disagree with that. The chance to take in a new place, see different cultures and lose yourself in the scenery is good for the soul. The break from work commitments and the change in air is good for you physically, a chance to recharge the batteries.

Of course, travel does you good, except for the times when it doesn’t. When you go away to get a break, and then you fall sick, that seems like a cruel joke by nature. And we’re not just talking homesickness here, either. No, the bitter irony is when we go away to see a new country and spend most of the trip wrapped up in bed.

The truth is, it can happen. In some ways, it’s more likely to. When you’re at home, you’re used to the climate, the food and water, the germs that people carry. Effectively, your immunity to what’s in your environment is higher. If you get ill while away, it’s not necessarily the place that’s made you sick so much as the change. In any case, it’s worth bearing some things in mind before you go.



See Your Doctor Before You Go

Some destinations throughout the world are more prone to various illnesses. When going there, it is recommended that you take the correct precautions. For example, certain areas have a higher risk of tuberculosis. If your destination appears on such a list, don’t cancel your trip, but do make a doctor’s appointment.

Although these countries have a higher risk, it is something that can be managed with a vaccine. Make an appointment to have this well in advance of travelling, because your doctor may need to make arrangements to give you the vaccine. There is no point showing up speculatively the Friday before you travel and asking for the jab. Speak to the receptionists and advise them when you’re going, and they will make the necessary arrangements.

Your doctor will have your medical records available to them and know how up to date your immunisations are. If there is any jab you need to have, they’ll know. They’ll also be able to advise you on how to manage existing conditions while away.




Research Your Destination Thoroughly

Certain areas of the world experience health scares periodically. For example, some sports professionals avoided the Rio Olympics in 2016 because of the outbreak of the Zika virus. Just over a decade ago, China and Hong Kong saw an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Being aware of current health risks is important.

It’s not just outbreaks, of course. Some areas of the world are more vulnerable to malaria. These include beautiful destinations like India, Costa Rica and Indonesia. Does this mean we shouldn’t go there? Absolutely not. We just need to prepare correctly.

Bringing with you enough of the correct medication can be all you need. Malarone are taken to help prevent malaria and are commercially available. Other precautions, such as the appropriate mosquito repellent, can be extremely beneficial, too. You may also want to invest in mosquito nets. Knowing what the risks are, and how to manage them, can make your trip so much better.

Food And Water: Know The Score

In our home countries, we tend to know which foods we can eat and which we cannot. Dietary intolerances are common enough, and some of us can, for example, only eat gluten-free bread. Different areas of the world have different diets. For example, in parts of Asia, lactose intolerance is prevalent. Someone travelling from there to the UK would, therefore, find their options limited.

Similarly, when you travel abroad, it is important to know the risks potentially posed to you by the food and water available there. Traveller’s Diarrhoea is a common complication experienced by holidaymakers to some countries. Sometimes you may even hear people advise you, on hearing of your destination, “Don’t drink the water!”.

In some countries, you will be best advised to drink only bottled water and to bring a supply with you. Taking the correct precautions when it comes to food – including making sure to wash hands before each meal – can be vital. There is no substitute for reading up about where you are going before you go there. It may be the difference between a holiday you always want to remember, and one you’re not going to be able to forget.


The key point in all of this is simple. Research your destination, and know the risks you may face there. Do this, and you should return home with only happy memories and charming souvenirs.


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One Response to Sun, Sea, Sand and… Sickness? Know The Health Risks When Travelling Abroad

  1. Andrew Walton 3 May, 2019 at 12:56 pm #

    Great blog article on health whilst travelling! I am a pharmacist and have travelled the world on several occasions and travel health is so important. Simple mistakes can ruin what should have been a great trip. I now run a company called Travelpharm providing specialist advice to travellers needing anti-malaria tablets, altitude sickness tablets and more. We even run travel clinics in local pharmacies to improve access to vaccine services that I found increasingly hard to get through my local doctor’s surgery.

    Keep up the great work and enjoy your travels!

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