Five simple ways to stay healthy on holiday

When you plan your next holiday, that’s the time to plan your holiday health too.

You’ve thought carefully about where in the world you want to travel and you’ve done your research about what to see, the best places to stay and how to get around, but how can you stay healthy?

Bali Belly

The most common travel-related illness, particularly in developing countries, is traveller’s diarrhoea – more lovingly known as Bali belly, Montezuma’s revenge or the Rangoon runs. Between 40-60 per cent of people experience it, says Dr Sonny Lau, Medical Director of Travel Doctor Melbourne. It’s usually caused by contaminated food or water and most cases ease within a few days.

“Be sensible about what you eat and drink and choose restaurants where a lot of expats eat. Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitising gel,” says Dr Lau.

Stick to foods that can be boiled, peeled and cooked, avoid ice cubes and choose canned and bottled drinks.

Get immunised

Many common illnesses, like hepatitis A, typhoid and cholera are caused by poor sanitation and dirty water and can be avoided with vaccines.

  • Ensure routine vaccinations are up to date, such as diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, measles and rubella.
  • Recommended vaccines include hepatitis A, influenza and typhoid.
  • There may be required vaccines, such as the yellow fever vaccine for South America and Africa.

Avoid clots

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is known as ‘cattle class syndrome’ and is mostly associated with flying economy class. But Dr Lau says it can strike anyone who sits for long periods when travelling.

“Fewer people travel in business and first class and that’s why we don’t see as many of those travellers with DVT,” he explains.

“If you travel for more than 4-6 hours stay hydrated and drink enough water so you have to get up and go to the toilet every two hours.”

Wear supportive socks and if you have a history of clots talk to your GP about self-injecting medication to minimise DVT.

Beating jet lag

Tiredness, disorientation, finding it hard to sleep, constipation and a loss of appetite can all be a result of jet lag. It usually disappears after about three days but ease the symptoms on a long flight by drinking water and not coffee, alcohol or fizzy drinks. Only eat when you’re hungry and stick to light meals. Sleep on longer sections of your flight and don’t nap on daylight parts of the flight.

Don’t take risks

“Common health problems at home are common health problems overseas, like heart attack. Have a management plan if you have a medical condition,” advises Dr Lau.

“The second most common killer when travelling is a road traffic accident or drowning. When people travel they sometimes throw caution out the window, particularly when they are inebriated. Be sensible.”

Written by Sarah Marinos