Going on holiday? Be trip readyTravel Aware - Staying safe and healthy abroad
Before you go
Visit your GP or travel clinic at least four to six weeks before you go. This gives you time to check your routine UK vaccines are up to date and get any recommended travel vaccines and malaria tablets.
Going on a last minute holiday? It’s not too late - vaccines can be given at short notice and malaria tablets (if needed) can be started the day you go.
Get comprehensive travel health insurance that covers everything you want to do. Even if you are going to Europe and have already got a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) check it’s still valid and hasn’t expired. Remember – an EHIC only gives you access to basic emergency care and you still need your own travel insurance.
Take a basic first kit including items like pain relief, gauze, antiseptic, tape, plasters and tweezers.
While you are away
Alcohol - Eat before you start drinking alcohol and have plenty of water and soft drinks. Remember - holiday drinks can be stronger than at home and hot weather might make you more susceptible to alcohol. Try to moderate your intake: alternating every alcoholic drink with a soft drink is a great way to reduce your alcohol consumption and make sure you stay hydrated. Avoid alcohol sold in places not licensed to sell alcohol like street markets.
Don’t accept drinks from strangers or leave your drink unattended.
Never drink and drive or swim after drinking.
Stay safe – Take care on and around balconies and water - never dive into a swimming pool from a balcony.
Don’t do something you’ll regret – too much can alcohol reduce your inhibitions, may put your health at risk and increases your chance of having an accident or doing something risky.
Blood borne infections - Body piercing, tattoos, illegal drug use and unprotected sex all carry the risk of blood borne illnesses like HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. It’s best to get tattoos or body piercing done safely at home, but if you decide to have them abroad, always check sterile, single use needles are used and disposed of carefully after each procedure.
Diarrhoea can mess up your plans - so be prepared. Visit a chemist before you go to stock up on over the counter diarrhoea treatments. Remember to drink plenty of fluids and if you have diarrhoea with blood and/or fever see a doctor straight away.
Food and water - Be careful with what you eat and drink and follow basic hygiene rules.
Insects can be a problem, with bites causing irritation. In some countries, insects can spread diseases, so reduce your risk by using insect repellents and staying in air-conditioned accommodation whenever possible.
Safer Sex - Carry your own condoms and practice safer sex by using a new one for every sexual encounter.
Follow local advice about tides and don’t swim on your own.
Always wear a helmet if riding a horse, bicycle or motorbike/moped.
Avoid driving at night. Sun protection: Use an SPF sunscreen of at least 30 UVA/UVB and reapply frequently, especially after swimming, wear a hat and sunglasses.
When you get home
If you had unprotected sex while you were away or think you might have a sexually transmitted infection, go to a sexual health clinic – they are free and completely confidential.
If you have any fever or flu like symptoms, get urgent medical attention. Remember to tell your doctor you have been abroad. This is especially important if you have been to countries with malaria, as an urgent malaria test must be arranged, even if you took malaria tablets and have been home for a while.
- Association of British Travel Agents: Quad Bike Safety
- Association of British Travel Agents/Foreign Office: Balcony Safety
- European Health Insurance Card
- NHS Choices: Beach Safety
- NHS Choices: Fake alcohol warning
- Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents: Driving Abroad Tips
- Travel Aware: Staying safe and healthy abroad