Whether you’re going on a relaxing beach holiday, trekking across spectacular landscapes or taking in the sights on a city tour, taking care of your health will help you to enjoy your trip as much as possible.
Before you go
- Get any necessary travel jabs and check your existing vaccinations are up to date.
- Check your travel insurance covers you for any holiday activities, such as sailing or paragliding.
- Pack a basic first aid kit containing plasters, painkillers, non-sedating anti-histamines, rehydration sachets, antiseptic wipes and any regular medication.
- Eat plenty of protein, as this helps the make the antibodies that fight infection. Good sources of protein include: quinoa, buckwheat, rice, beans, spirulina, nuts, chickpeas, leafy greens, hemp and chia seeds.
- Take a supplement with antioxidants and amino acids, which help the skin produce melanin – the dark pigment – that helps protect it in the sun.
- Take a good friendly bacteria supplement to boost your bowel health.
Help prevent tummy bugs
Warmer temperatures, combined with different hygiene standards to those at home, mean stomach bugs can spread much more quickly. This means it’s vital to wash your hands, or use alcohol or antibacterial wipes or gels, after going to the loo, and before and after preparing food.
Street stalls are great fun, but go to busy stalls where you can see the food being freshly prepared and cooked, and make sure any food is piping hot and cooked through. Avoid anything that looks like it has been sitting out for too long, such as a hotel buffet.
Check salads and fruit have been washed or prepared with bottled water, and stick to bottled water for drinking. Avoid ice cubes in your drinks and clean your teeth with bottled water rather than tap water.
If you do get a stomach bug
- Try not to take anti-diarrhoea tablets, as the bacteria need to pass through your system.
- Do take rehydration sachets to replace lost fluids and body salts.
- Keep up the fluid intake; adults should have 200ml of clear fluid after every episode of vomiting or diarrhoea (take small sips). Try gut-soothing chamomile or peppermint tea if want something other than water.
- Keep an eye on any children or elderly people who fall ill, as they’re more at risk of dehydration.
- Keep taking friendly bacteria supplements to help recolonise your gut.
- Follow the BRAT diet – bananas, rice, apples and toast – until the diarrhoea settles. These are all plain foods that won’t irritate the gut.
- If you’re still ill after 48 hours, seek medical attention.
Avoid mosquito bites
Citronella makes a great natural alternative to over-the-counter sprays. Use a few drops in a burner to deter insects from the area, dilute in a carrier oil, or add to your moisturiser before applying to your skin.
Take an antihistamine tablet or use a mild topical steroid cream to reduce any itching and redness, while aloe vera or calendula will also soothe any bites. Creams containing avena sativa (from oats) can also help reduce inflammation.
Also try adding a few drops of tea tree oil to your moisturiser, which can soothe and stop infection from any bites you’ve scratched.
Tackle travel sickness
Some homeopathic remedies are very effective for travel sickness; nux vom can help if you typically feel nauseous and ‘seasick’ in the car, or you can buy supplements that combine several useful remedies into one capsule.
Acupressure bands, sipping peppermint or ginger tea, or chewing fresh ginger, can all help settle your stomach and fight the sickness. Getting some fresh air can often calm nausea too.
The best thing to beat sunburn is to avoid getting burnt in the first place. Remember to use minimum SPF 30 and avoid going out when the sun is strongest, between 11am and 3pm. Cover up and wear a hat to protect your scalp.
If you do get burnt, try soothing the affected area with cool water and applying aloe vera gel or calendula cream. Aloe vera helps keep the skin hydrated, while calendula can calm any redness.
This article has been adapted from longer features appearing in Healthy, the Holland & Barrett magazine. Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.