Travelling abroad can expose you to disease and health risks. It is important to learn the dangers and how to stay healthy.
Visit your GP at least six weeks before you travel to check if you need any vaccinations or to take other steps (like taking malaria tablets).
Remember: these treatments aren’t usually available on NHS prescriptions.
You should also make extra preparations if you have an existing medical condition.
• take out adequate travel insurance or you could face a huge medical bill if you fall ill and need treatment
• get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to entitle you to free and discounted healthcare in European countries
• check the health section of our country travel advice before you travel
• drink plenty of water in hot climates to avoid dehydration
• be safe in the sun - use a high-factor sunscreen and avoid excessive sunbathing between 11am - 3pm
• find out the local emergency services numbers and the number of the local hospital
• practice safe sex - take condoms with you because the quality varies in different countries. HIV and Aids, and other sexually transmitted diseases are also a risk worldwide
• don’t wear tight clothing on long-distance journeys
• do regular stretching exercises such as flexing and extending your ankles to avoid circulation problems
• walk round at regular intervals on long flights
• drink plenty of water on flights and avoid drinking too much alcohol.
• are pregnant or have given birth in the last six months
• have a history of blood disorders, deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism
• are taking hormonal medication (including the contraceptive pill)
• have cancer, heart problems or have recently had surgery.
• tell your travel insurer about it
• ask your doctor how the trip might affect your condition
• check local conditions such as climate and pollution levels and consider how you might be affected
• carry a doctor’s letter and a copy of any prescriptions
• ensure your medication is legal in the country you are visiting – the British embassy can advise you
• learn key words and phrases in the local language for your condition, medication and emergency help
• take the same precautions you normally would in the UK if you weren’t going to be at home for a while.
The Department of Health and NHS websites have more information about travel health.