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Holiday Health Hazards
It’s that time of year when many of us will shortly be leaving the stresses and strains of work behind us for a well-deserved week or two of rest and relaxation, hopefully somewhere warm, sunny and interesting.
But before you skip off for a spot of flip-flop and swimsuit shopping in readiness for all that frolicking in the surf, make sure you’ve made all the right preparations to ensure your hard-earned, wellbeing-boosting week away doesn’t turn into a holiday health experience from hell.
So you’ve bought a guidebook to help you explore the local historical sites, you’ve checked your resort entertainment itinerary online, you’ve pre-booked a spa treatment day and you’ve got your hands on the latest thriller from your favourite author - all ready to begin reading, relaxing and enjoying yourself in earnest once you arrive.
Does this sound like your idea of holiday heaven? Sorry to rain on your parade, but given some thought, most of us know someone who contracted food poisoning from a dodgy seafood platter, or perhaps someone who had a serious flip flop slip next to the pool, resulting in stitches and a fractured elbow which took months to mend.
Such hellish holiday experiences are memorable for all the wrong reasons – nobody wants to spend valuable holiday time stuck in the bathroom, in bed - or worse - in hospital. The most recent figures from the Foreign Office indicate that more than 3,000 British people require hospitalisation while abroad every year, so it makes sense to do your utmost to ensure that you’re not among them.
Healthy, happy holiday?
We have put together the following three quick tips to help you stay healthy when away from home.
Put together a travel/emergency health kit
Make sure you acquire and pack any usual prescription medications for each member of your party, ensuring original packaging and pharmacy labels remain intact. It may sound silly, but you may wish to double-check that your prescription medicines are legal in your destination country – some drugs are classed as controlled and different regulations may apply. For more information, visit NHS Choices.
- Prescription medicines - enough to cover the trip plus an extra few days’ worth, just in case - for whatever reason - you are unable to return when scheduled to
- Appropriate SPF sunscreen and after sun lotion for each member of your party
- Simple over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, including age-appropriate syrup versions for any children
- Any additional medicinal products that you require on a regular basis
- Bottlebrush and sterilising tablets – to make sure any dummies, beakers, bottles and other feeding utensils are squeaky clean and germ-free
- Anti-diarrhoea medications
- A good supply of rehydration solution sachets
- A good supply of insect repellent
- Antihistamine tablets or syrup for children, to treat any minor allergic reactions, normal insect bites or stings
- Antiseptic cream, for any scrapes or cuts
- Forehead thermometer strips – to check for temperatures
- Plasters and antibacterial wipes and gel.
Avoid sunburn and heat exhaustion by following the below sun protection tips
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of clear, non-alcoholic drinks throughout the day. A good indicator of hydration is urine colour, which should be clear or a very pale yellow
- Whether you are in the sun or shade, apply sunscreen liberally to all exposed areas of skin. Re-apply every two hours and straight after swimming or towelling in order to maintain protection
- Spend some time in the shade during the sunniest part of the day when the sun is at its strongest, which is usually between 10am and 4pm in hotter countries
- Avoid all direct sun exposure for babies and very young children
- When it is not possible to stay out of the sun, keeping yourself well covered, with a hat, T-shirt, and sunglasses can give you additional protection
- Always keep babies and children covered with a hat, t-shirt or an all-in-one protective wetsuit
Are we there yet? How to keep babies and young children occupied during a flight
Travelling with babies and young children can be notoriously difficult and stressful – not just for your family but also for those seated nearby, should your young child become frustrated and launch into full tantrum mode. Try to spare your child, yourself and others the stress and upset and keep them distracted and occupied. Fingers crossed!
Make sure you pack the following in their hand luggage:
- A favourite toy or their usual comforter
- A dummy/bottle/pacifier for babies or consider a lollipop for much older children – the sucking action helps to ease ear pain during take-off
- A familiar small pillow or cushion from home for an in-flight nap (wishful thinking!)
- Activities including colouring books, crayons and sticker books
- Reading books
- A fully-charged tablet or hand-held gaming device, if they use one
In addition, try to pre-book an in-flight meal if your budget will stretch - young children love the novelty of having a meal and dessert delivered to their seat and most children will take ages to eat (you’ll be glad for once). Many airlines also include an activity pack - both of which will help to pass the time. Good luck!
If you would like to know more and to maximise the happy memories and minimise your margin for mishap during your summer break, read our Eight Steps for a Healthy, Happy Holiday.
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