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Staying Healthy if Travelling Abroad this Summer 2024

17 Apr 2024

As the summer holiday season approaches, many people are preparing to travel abroad. Health risks abroad vary between country to country. Your individual risk will depend on where you are going, how long you are travelling for, your planned activities and your general health.

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 Travel

Before travelling abroad, make sure you:

  • review the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) travel advice for information on climate issues and natural disasters, coronavirus, 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
  • are aware of any reciprocal health agreements for your destination, such as EHIC/GHIC card, noting that these aren'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. You can ask your General Practice for a record of your childhood immunisations: see NHS inform (Scotland) and NHS.UK (Rest of UK) for further information.
  • 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 risk assessment at least 6-8 weeks in advance of travel (even if travel is sooner, a travel health consultation can still be beneficial)

During Travel

You can stay healthy and protect yourself and family against most of the common health risks when travelling abroad, by:

Taking care with respiratory hygiene and hand hygiene:

  • 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
  • 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:

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-borne diseases detected in Europe; check the News section for country-specific information.
  • 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:

Practicing safer sex

Practicing sun safety

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 :

Type of Travel

Depending on the reason for your trip, additional information specific to each of the following types of travel is available:

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

  • 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.

After Travel

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.

Further Resources