Staying Healthy if Travelling Abroad this Summer
24 Jul 2023
During the summer holiday season many people are preparing to travel abroad. Health risks abroad vary between country to country.
You can help to protect the health and safety of yourself and your family when travelling abroad this summer by following the advice and tips below.
Before travelling abroad, make sure you:
- review the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) travel advice for information on climate issues and natural disasters, COVID-19, entry requirements, personal safety, and local laws and customs at your destination(s) and any stopover(s)
- have valid comprehensive travel insurance that covers all planned activities and destinations, and includes cover for expenses and evacuation cover in an emergency. Make sure you share details of your policy with your next of kin and travel companions.
- apply for an EHIC/GHIC card in advance of travel to Europe (be aware that this isn’t a replacement for travel insurance, but can help you to get state healthcare in a European country at a reduced cost or sometimes for free)
- and your family are up to date with all routine immunisations recommended for life in the UK, including MMR
- review the country specific advice for your destination(s) for information on advisable vaccinations, malaria risk, disease outbreaks and other health risks at your destination(s)
- seek a travel health consultation at least 6-8 weeks in advance of travel (even if travel is sooner, a travel health consultation can still be beneficial)
You can stay healthy and protect yourself and family against most of the common health risks when travelling abroad, by:
- Infectious diseases such as COVID-19 , measles and flu (influenza) can spread easily between people in crowded areas
- Measles outbreaks are on the rise in the UK and abroad. For country-specific information on outbreaks, see the news section
- The COVID-19: Health Considerations for Travel page provides advice on reducing your risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) before, during and after travel
- Be aware that even though it is summer in the UK, the flu season in the southern hemisphere runs between April to September
Taking safe food and water precautions:
- Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, and limit your alcohol intake to avoid becoming dehydrated, especially if the weather is hot – see advice on Heat and Humidity
- Traveller’s diarrhoea is a common cause of illness during travel, it is important you know about self-treatment and when to seek medical help
Practicing effective insect and tick bite avoidance at all times of the day and night:
- Summer months can lead to an increase in biting insects; make sure you know how to reduce and manage insect bites
- Be aware there has been a recent rise in mosquito-borne and tick-vorne diseases in Europe
- If you are visiting countries where malaria is present, it is important to know how to protect yourself and your family using the A, B, C, D approach to malaria prevention, and always seek a travel health risk assessment for malaria advice and/or tablets.
Trying to avoid contact with animals to reduce your risk of animal bites and scratches:
- Animal bites are not uncommon, and if not managed appropriately at the time of injury, can potentially cause rabies, tetanus or serious wound infections
- Make sure you know what to do if you are bitten or scratched by an animal
- The use of condoms and regular sexual health testing can help reduce the risk of blood borne viruses and other sexual health risks, including mpox during travel
Practicing sun safety
- This can help reduce your risk of sunstroke and other heat disorders in warm weather, as well as skin cancer
Carrying a simple first aid kit to self-manage basic health problems
Trying to limit your intake of alcohol and/or drug use as these can lead to risk-taking behaviours which may increase your risk of accidents and/or injuries occurring. Be aware that in some countries, the penalties for possessing drugs can be very severe.
Considering your Personal Safety. Make sure you :
- read the FCDO travel advice for information on local laws and customs, safety and security issues and entry requirements at your destination(s). You can also sign up for travel advice email alerts.
- stick with your friends and don’t go off alone. Keep an eye on each other’s drinks, share copies of passports, accommodation details and other important documents with each other.
- be aware of passport safety tips and replacement process in event of being lost or stolen
- know how to access help and services from the UK government when abroad
Type of Travel
Depending on the reason for your trip, additional information specific to each of the following types of travel is available:
- Cruise Travel
- Expeditions and Volunteering
- High Altitude Travel
- Longer Stay Travellers
- Package Tourist
- Travelling Abroad for Medical Treatment
- Travelling Abroad to attend Festivals and other Gatherings
- Visiting Friends and Relatives
- The risk of FGM for girls travelling abroad during the summer months (also known as ‘cutting season’) is high.
- FGM is child abuse and against the law in the UK. If you perform FGM, help to perform FGM, or fail to protect a child from FGM, you could face up to 14 years in prison.
- If you, or someone you know, is at risk of FGM, or has undergone FGM then help is available.
If you or your family become unwell in the weeks/months after travel, particularly with a high fever, flu-like symptoms, rash and/or diarrhoea, you should seek urgent medical advice. Make sure you mention your recent travel history to the health professional, particularly if you have travelled to a country where malaria is a risk.