Travel health: how to stay in peak condition on the road
Travel health is its own unique subject, with its own set of rules. Everyday health has everything it needs right at our fingertips. Our usual doctors and medication are always on-hand, and we know just where to go if we need something specific.
Travel health is far more unpredictable. A change in environment and the things we eat and drink can alter our bodies at a moment’s notice. Different languages can make finding the rights meds a nightmare, and we’re not always sure where the nearest pharmacy is. That said, staying tip-top while travelling doesn’t have to be difficult – all it takes it a good sense of judgement, and a little preparation.
Before you set off on a trip, make sure you have all your usual medication with you and the right amount to cover you during your trip. This might take a little forward planning and a quick chat with your doctor to explain you’re going away and need extra on your usual prescription. If your travels are open-ended, explain the situation to your doctor and they should be able to do what they can to make sure you’re covered for as long as possible.
Do your research
North America, Europe, and Australia and New Zealand are some of the easiest places to visit in terms of travel health, but other destinations around the globe can be a bit of a minefield. Once you’ve booked your trip, look up the countries you’re visiting on websites such as Fit for Travel, a specialised travel health website run by the NHS. These resources are perfect for finding up-to-date information on vaccinations, malaria advice, and general tips. You can also ask your doctor for advice while you’re there topping up your prescription. Doing this research before you set off will prepare you for the things you’re most likely to encounter while away.
Always be sure to use accredited, trust-worthy websites run by medical professionals as opposed to forums. Everyone is different and we each have different travel health needs. It’s not recommended to listen to a complete stranger with zero medical background offering their opinion or telling you what medication you need based on their own personal experience.
There are pharmacies (almost) everywhere
Unless you’re travelling to the back and beyond, there are pharmacies pretty much everywhere. You can find doctors even in the smallest of villages. Foreign pharmacists often speak a good level of English, making it easy to communicate with them and tell them what you need.
You’d be surprised to find how widespread medication is across the globe. You may even find that prescribed medication back home can be bought over the counter in other countries, which is a god-send if you’re away for longer than expected. Trust the pharmacies, and trust that you will almost always be able to find one.
Eat well and sleep lots
Just as you do back home, make sure you’re eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep. This is especially important when you’re away from home, as travelling can be exhausting and your body needs the right fuel and a decent amount of R&R.
Take some soluble vitamin C tablets with you. The second you start to feel run down or like you might be slightly under the weather, dissolve one of these in water and drink it. This helps to top up your body’s defences and could fend off any impending cold or flu symptoms.
It is a nightmare being abroad, uninsured, and getting ill or hospitalised. Even though insurance is the most boring part of travel, it’s a must – especially in certain countries. Knowing that you’re covered for any eventuality will put your mind at ease and allow you to enjoy the experience instead of hold yourself back.
Opt for a flexible and trustworthy company like World Nomads. Make sure you read policy documents thoroughly, and triple check you’re covered for any bumps in the road that are common in your destination. Add extra cover for things like extreme sports to avoid getting caught out.
What are your top tips for travel health?
How do you stay healthy on the road?