Holidays are supposed to be fun and relaxing, so the last thing you want to do is fall ill. While your Churchill Travel Insurance will pay for any treatment if sickness strikes, prevention is always the best option.
Before you travel
At least six weeks before you travel, visit your GP to check if you need any immunisations. Malaria is rife in many parts of the developing world, so if you think you are heading to an infected area, discuss with your doctor whether you need to take malaria tablets.
On your journey, take precautions against Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). While DVT is usually associated with air travel, be warned, it can just as easily happen while travelling by car, coach or train.
DVT is a clotting of the blood, usually in the calf. If a clot develops, it will feel intensely painful. You should seek medical attention immediately if you suspect a clot, especially after a long journey. DVT can occur days or even weeks after a trip and in some cases it can be fatal.
To prevent DVT, those at risk should exercise their calf muscles by simply rotating their ankles a few times at least once every hour on long journeys.
For long flights, wear loose clothing as parts of your body can expand due to the change in atmospheric pressure. In the dry environment of a plane, too much alcohol, tea and coffee can add to the problem of dehydration, a contributing factor to DVT. It is therefore best to drink lots of water and fruit juices.
Watch out for the sun
Remember to always be careful in the sun. As well as giving you painful sunburn, too much sun can age your skin and increase your risk of getting skin cancer. If you are holidaying somewhere hot and sunny, try to avoid excessive sunbathing, especially in the middle of the day, and wear a high-factor sunscreen.
Another risk from the sun is heatstroke. To avoid it, don’t do anything too energetic during the hottest part of the day, and make sure you keep yourself hydrated by drinking lots of non-alcoholic liquids.
Watch out for insects
While avian flu and SARS tend to hog the headlines, malaria continues to be one of the greatest threats to travellers to Asia, Africa and South America. There have also been outbreaks in unexpected destinations such as Jamaica. Each year, some 1,750 people return to the UK with malaria, which is always serious and potentially fatal. Taking the appropriate medication for your destination – not all strains of malaria are the same – and taking it correctly is the only way to ensure you aren’t one of them.
Yellow fever is also spread by mosquitoes in parts of Africa and South America. Although the incidence of yellow fever in travellers is limited, new outbreaks have recently been reported in Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil meaning that travellers to these areas should get a dose of the effective vaccine that is available to combat this disease.
In many parts of the world, insects can carry all sorts of unpleasant diseases and so you should take preventative action.
Firstly, apply a good repellent to any exposed skin every 6 hours. Clothes can also be impregnated with repellent for further protection. If wearing sunscreen, apply your repellent on top.
Keep your legs and arms covered, but avoid wearing dark colours, as they can attract mosquitoes – as do strong perfumes, hair sprays and after-shaves. And in a risk area, it is wise to use a bed net, preferably one impregnated with permethrin.
Watch out for diarrhoea
While ‘Delhi-belly’ may be an acceptable, almost expected, hazard of travel off the beaten track, diarrhoea is one of the most common health problems affecting those travelling to developing countries.
As a preventative measure, boil any drinking water you are unsure about, or use bottled water, even for brushing your teeth. Order drinks without ice, and avoid roadside food vendors selling ice cream and unwashed fruit.
If you do get diarrhoea, drink plenty of clear, clean fluids. It might be helpful to take diarrhoea medication along with some rehydrating fluid.
What if you get ill?
Of course, sometimes, despite all the precautions, illness will still strike. If it does, Churchill Travel Insurance will cover all necessary and reasonable medical costs, up to £10 million.
If you have to return home to the UK due to your illness, we will also pay for necessary additional travelling expenses, or, if your illness or injury forces you to stay longer than you had originally booked, we will cover the extra necessary accommodation expenses.
Travelling abroad always carries the risk of illness. But, hopefully, if you take precautions, you should be okay. And if you’re not, signing up to Churchill Travel Insurance will relieve the financial burden.
Find out more
Up-to-date details of health bulletins and vaccination requirements are readily available online, so planning a healthy trip is easy. For example: