Tips for staying healthy while travelling

March 01, 2017

If you’re planning to travel this year, you probably already know that your health should be top priority. But it can be tricky to know just what you need to do in order to keep yourself safe and healthy.

Here are some tips for staying healthy while travelling:

Beware of mosquitos

One of the biggest threats to your health is the common mosquito, particularly if you’re travelling in Central or South America, parts of Southeast Asia, and parts of Africa. One of the main things you need to worry about is malaria, which can be devastating to your health. For this reason, you’ll need to use an anti malarial such as doxycycline (warning, this can cause sun-sensitivity and I ended up extremely sunburnt after not being aware of this warning). Since you can still contract malaria even if you’re on anti malarials, it’s important that you’re aware of the early malaria symptoms so you know what to look for and can get help as soon as possible if necessary.

You’ll also need to make sure you’re using enough insect repellent, and covering your skin up as much as you can (especially at dusk and dawn when mosquitos are most active). If you’re pregnant, you may want to avoid certain countries in South and Central America due to the risk of the zika virus which causes the severe birth defect microcephaly. Other risks include dengue, chikungunya, and West Nile virus.


Check the water

Before travelling, check if you can drink the tap water in the countries you’ll be visiting. If not, some people prefer to brush their teeth with bottled water to reduce the risk of accidentally swallowing the tap water and getting sick. One of the biggest risks is cholera, which is found in untreated water around the world and can cause death. You can be vaccinated against cholera, and last year the FDA in the United States approved an oral vaccine which is 80% effective three months after an oral dose.

Get your shots

There are a number of vaccinations you’ll need if you’re travelling to certain countries. If you’re planning to visit places that many people from your home country also visit, it’s likely that your local doctor’s office will have a good idea of what vaccinations you need, however if you’re getting a little further off the beaten path, it may be a good idea to do some internet research and ensure that you’re getting all the vaccinations necessary.

Some of the most common vaccinations for travellers include diphtheria, polio and tetanus (this is often given as a combined booster), typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A (usually combined with hepatitis B or typhoid), tuberculosis, rabies, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, and meningitis. Obviously, the vaccinations you need will be completely dependent on where exactly you’ll be travelling and the biggest risks to your health while in those particular countries.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and ensure you’re vaccinated well in advance before you leave so they have time to become effective.