Check your vaccination requirements at least 6 months prior to your trip. Make sure routine vaccinations are up to date, and check with your doctor or TravelHealth advisor on specific vaccination recommendations for the places you are visiting. If your trip is last minute, you should still visit your doctor or TravelHealth advisor as soon as possible.
Ensure that you are in good health before you leave. Get a dentist check up – this will lessen the risk of needing emergency treatment abroad. Keep a record of your blood group, and consider joining the Blood Care Foundation, should you require emergency blood while away.
Take a well-stocked first aid kit with you and, if required, enough prescription medication for the trip. Check out our pre-travel shopping list and note the essential items needed for your trip.
Prevention of Accidents
Accidents can happen anywhere and are the top reason for medical repatriation among travellers. Think ahead – always wear seat bets when travelling in cars, never drink and drive, take special care when swimming in unknown water and never swim alone.
Safety standards of balconies and electrical appliances might not be the same standards as at home. Accidents can increases the risk of HIV or Hepatitis B & C if you require a blood transfusion in a high-risk destination.
Check out your malaria risk prior to leaving for your trip. Get good advice from your doctor or travel health advisor. Make sure you understand about malaria, so you understand why you need to take precautions.
In the year 2000 – the United Kingdom saw 1,400 cases of malaria. No medication will offer 100% protection so it is vitally important that you also don’t get bitten in the first place – with good methods of bite prevention.
Sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia, Hepatitis B and HIV are easily contracted if precautions are not taken. Casual sexual behaviour abroad can increase the risk of contracting HIV by 300-fold.
If you do engage in sexual contact, always use a condom. Use the web to find local sexual health clinics at the first sign of any problems.
The more care you take with what you eat and drink, the lower your risk of getting travellers diarrhoea.
Take some anti-diarrhoeal medication with you. If you also develop a fever, have blood in your stool, or are unable to drink fluids, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
As the Australians say – Slip, Slap, Slop – Slip on a shirt, Slap on a hat, and Slop on some sun cream.
The sun is strongest between 10.00 – 15.00hrs. During this time make the most of the shade. Reapply sun cream every 2 hours and always put insect repellents on top of sun cream.
Get yourself an e-mail box that can be picked up from a remote server such as hotmail account. Make use of the account to store essential health information, and keep in touch with those at home.
Take time to get acquainted with local customs, religious holidays and laws and the political situation before going – it might save you a lot of trouble in the long run! Always let others know of your itinerary and plan ahead. If you change course, write or e-mail home, so others are aware of your schedule.
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.