Consult your doctor or TravelHealth Advisor several weeks before you leave. It is important to discuss every aspect of your trip, such as where you are going, for how long and how you plan to travel. Vaccinations may be required to help prevent infections during your holiday. In addition to routine holiday vaccinations, you might need to have a flu vaccination, especially if you are going on a cruise. Your doctor will be able to order flu vaccine at any time of the year.
Make sure that your GP or TravelHealth Practitioner is aware of any medication you take before they prescribe vaccinations for your trip. Reactions may cause reduced effectiveness or even serious side effects. If you visit an independent Travel Clinic for malaria tablets, remember that they will not have a copy of your existing medical history, so take along with you a list of your medication.
If you regularly take medication, make sure you take enough to last you until after you return from your trip — and be prepared for any delays. Also write down all medication you take and keep this information on your person in case of emergency.
Malaria tablets may be required for some destinations. Consult your General Practitioner especially if you are already on regular medication.
Always carry your medication in your hand luggage, and ask your GP to write a letter explaining the nature of your medication. If you are travelling to Asia, check with the embassy of the country you are visiting for regulations on bringing medication into the country.
If you have a pre-existing illness or disability, you may need to make special arrangements for travel or accommodation. Contact your tour operator and hotel to discuss your requirements and make sure that they have the facilities you need to travel in comfort.
If you need to keep medications cool, ask your travel agent for a room with a fridge. Make provision to keep your medication cool during the journey. It is important that you follow the instructions you received with your medication, as temperature may affect how well the medicine works.
If your medication requires to be taken at regular intervals, it may be worth getting some specific advice. Unusual increase in regular activity can change the rate at which some medications are absorbed. It is also important to allow for delays and different time zones when calculating your schedule. Your practice nurse can assist you with this.
Check that the insurance offered by your travel company covers your requirements — you may need to take out additional insurance if the cover is not sufficient. Be thorough when completing the forms, as failure to declare a health problem may invalidate your insurance.
If you are travelling in Europe, be sure to complete form EHIC, available from your post office. This will need to be validated by your post office before you leave.
Arriving at your Destination
Make yourself familiar with the medical facilities of your chosen destination. Make sure you know the emergency numbers for your locality and know where to get help if you get into trouble.
Safety rules for food and drink are very important — ensure that you are aware of the precautions you need to take to eat and drink safely.
Ensure that you drink adequate amounts of non-alcoholic fluid to prevent dehydration.
Insect bites and minor cuts and grazes may take longer to heal in a hot climate. Take a small first aid kit to ensure you can keep a wound clean and dry whilst away. Seek medical advice if you are concerned.
Diarrhoea is a problem for many travellers. This is of particular concern for the mature traveller, and you may need specialist advice. Discuss what action you should take in the event of the onset of diarrhoea with your Doctor or TravelHealth Advisor.
It may be appropriate to have a health check with your Doctor or Practice Nurse. This becomes important if you have been ill whilst on holiday — repeat or additional medications might be needed to treat illness acquired abroad.
It is also important to take it easy and rest after your trip. Travelling can be stressful and you may require time to readjust to being home.
Useful Contact Addresses
Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation
12 City Forum, 250 City Rd, London EC1V 8AF.
Tel: 020 7250 3222.
Provide leaflets and booklets specifically for those with a disability. They also produce travel guides for the UK and beyond. A telephone help line is also available to address individual travel questions.
110 Queen Ann St, London W1M 0BD.
Tel: 020 7323 1531.
Provide leaflets and booklets that may be of value to the diabetic traveller. A telephone help line gives individual advice to anyone with questions regarding travel and their diabetic care.
Freepost, Ashburton, Devon TQ13 7ZZ.
Tel: 0800 00 99 66.
Produce leaflets covering many areas of interest to travellers over 50, those more specific to travel are fact sheet 4 and fact sheet 26. The fact sheets are free and comprehensive. A telephone help line is also available.
Age Concern Travel Insurance
Telephone: 0845 601 2234
Age Concern provides travel insurance cover without any age limitations. They are also able to provide cover for travellers with pre-existing conditions
British Heart Foundation
14 Fitzharding St, London, W1H 4DH.
Tel: 020 7935 0185.
Produce a fact sheet that addresses air travel following heart attack or surgery. A telephone help line is also available.
Note: This information is designed to complement and not replace the relationship that exists with your existing family doctor or travel health professional. Please discuss your travel health requirements with your regular family doctor or practice nurse.