Doctors at Epsom and St Helier hospitals have issued some useful advice to help you avoid costly or painful pitfalls, and stay safe and healthy abroad.
The summer break is often a time when people go on holiday, and suffering from ill health or forgetting to pack essentials when travelling can spoil your summer, but these problems can often be avoided by planning ahead.
Whether you are off on a six month trip to Nepal or a family holiday in Europe, it is firstly vital to have the right travel insurance that covers medical treatment. Make sure to check that your travel insurance policy covers your destination and the duration of your stay, as well as any specific activities you might do.
Our Joint Medical Director, Dr James Marsh, has shared some further general travelling tips, starting with vaccinations. James said: “You do not always need vaccinations to travel abroad but if you do, the recommended vaccinations will vary depending on which country you're visiting, the season or time of year you'll be travelling, what you'll be doing during your stay, how long you'll be staying, your age and health. You can get advice about vaccinations at least eight weeks before you are due to travel from your local GP, practice nurse or some pharmacies. You can also visit NHS Fit for Travel (opens in new window) to see what vaccinations are necessary for your travels.
“It is recommended that you order your regular medication or repeat prescriptions plenty of time before your holiday to avoid any last minute panics. You should also check all medications (including over the counter medications) to see if there are any restrictions such as taking it out of the UK, taking it to your destination and the type and/or amount of medication that can be taken (a letter from a healthcare practitioner may needed to allow transit across border controls).
“Try to ensure adequate medicine supplies are taken for the duration of your trip and include extra for unforeseen delays, damage or loss – remember to keep your medicines and equipment in original packaging with labels.
“It’s important to pack a first aid kit as minor accidents and illnesses can be self-treated and may not need a hospital visit. A basic first aid kit can include: antiseptic, painkillers, wound-cleaning gauze, sterile dressings, bandage tape, plasters, tweezers and scissors (pack in hold luggage), thermometer, antihistamines, sunscreen, sunburn treatment, insect repellent, insect bite treatment and condoms.
“Motion sickness can also occur when travelling, but there are various things you can do to prevent it or relieve the symptoms. For example, you can buy medication from pharmacies (tablets or patches), you can try to look straight ahead at a fixed point such as the horizon, and breathe fresh air if possible – for example, by opening a car window, close your eyes and focus on your breathing Break up long journeys to get some fresh air, drink water, take a walk or try consuming some ginger – as a tablet, biscuit or tea. We recommend not to eat heavy meals such as spicy foods, or drink alcohol shortly before or during travelling.
“And last but not least, don’t forget the sunscreen. You should use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 to protect against UVB and at least four-star UVA protection.
Don't rely on sunscreen alone to protect yourself from the sun. Wear suitable clothing and spend time in the shade when the sun's at its hottest. Make sure the sunscreen is not past its expiry date (opens in new window). Most sunscreens have a shelf life of two to three years.”
With a little preparation, we hope you all have a safe summer.