Travelling always comes with risks, but there is always something to be learned from past and current events. Whilst travel may not currently be possible, here are some essential tips to keep in mind for future travel, to help you deal with potential health risks.
Check Before Travel
Before you book any trip, you should always check your government’s advisory page, which shows travel warnings and restrictions. Whether it be an unstable government, conflict, weather warnings or a viral outbreak – avoid travel when there are higher risks. Make sure your travel insurance covers you for any and all of the risks you may encounter on your travels, and that you know if you are covered for healthcare when abroad.
Visit a Travel Doctor
Before any travel, you should make sure you are fully immunised for the country or region you are visiting. For example, make sure you are vaccinated against Yellow Fever and Japanese Encephalitis before considering travelling to Asia. Vaccinations can provide you with protection against avoidable diseases and viruses; don’t take chances when a simple vaccine can protect you.
Always, Always Wash Your Hands
You might be sick of hearing ‘wash your hands’, but the importance of washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly is not to be taken lightly. A quick wash won’t do; be sure to follow all of the steps to clean your hands thoroughly and avoid contaminating yourself and others. Hand sanitizers give an added layer of protection but should be used after thorough handwashing with soap and water first. You should also avoid touching your face, as this can spread germs and bacteria into your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth.
If You Are Sick – Don’t Travel
Sickness spreads fast, so if you know you are unwell and contagious, don’t spread it on to others. A single person can infect thousands, and whilst you might be able to recover easily, not everyone can. If you really must travel, washing your hands is even more important and wearing a mask to help contain coughs and sneezes may also be advisable.
Eating and Drinking Safely
Not all countries have safe drinking water, so make sure you look this up before travel and only drink from sealed bottled water if necessary. You should also choose wisely where you eat meals, as food hygiene standards may vary. Use your common sense – if a restaurant looks unsanitary, don’t eat food there. Read reviews and look for certification to prove they follow good food preparation procedures. Be aware that water can also be unsafe for swimming, wading, bathing or and washing in.
Pack Protective Essentials
There are different kinds of things that you may encounter, and with adequate protection, they pose little to no harm. To defend your skin from harmful rays and prevent skin cancer, make sure you pack plenty of sunscreens and protect your eyes with sunglasses. Mosquitoes spread disease too, so use mosquito repellent and consult your travel doctor about malaria tablets if you are travelling to a high-risk area.
You also need to consider sexual health protection, as whilst you can be vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B and HPV (Human Papillomavirus), you cannot be vaccinated against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Always practice safe sex with high-quality condoms.
There is no guaranteed way to stay 100% safe, as there are risks in everything we do, including travelling. If you are aware of the risks and can prepare against them, you are putting yourself in a much safer position, so make sure you do your research and be prepared – and don’t forget to wash your hands!