It is holiday season and the last thing you want is to go down with a bug. Whether going on a staycation or to a five-star hotel in an exotic location, the key to holiday health is to take protective steps before you set off to make sure you stay well when you get there.
Editor Jane Garton shares her top holiday health tips for a fabulous vacation.
Use ‘plane’ common sense
Nothing is more upsetting that catching a cold or infection en route to your holiday destination – and sadly it’s all too common thanks to crowded aeroplanes, germs that settle on every surface you touch and stale re-circulated air. So for optimum holiday health follow these rules if you can:
Take the first flight out in the morning
For starters it is likely to leave on time so there will be no hanging around which can send stress levels soaring. Chances are it will also have been recently cleaned from the previous day
Stock up on water
Buy a bottle of water when you get into the departure lounge or take an empty reusable bottle with you and ask one of the food places to fill it with water for you once you have passed security. The cabin air in planes can be dry which increases your risk of picking up an infection – you need moisture in your mucous membranes (nose, throat and eyes) to help repel any bacteria and viruses
Managing travel sickness
If you are prone to travel sickness don’t eat before flying and avoid fizzy drinks too. Go for a seat in the middle of the plane where the motion is likely to be least. Ginger capsules are a tried-and-tested remedy for travel sickness, while wearing acupressure bands on the wrist can also help.
Standing up and walking around at regular intervals can help to stimulate your circulation and protect against blood clots forming in your legs that can occur after being sedentary for several hours. If getting out of your seat is difficult try the following exercise: lift your shoulders and shrug them backwards and forwards, drop your chin and nod yes and no. Then draw circles with your toes, pressing up into the balls of your feet ten times. Wearing flight socks can also help.
If you are not careful you can end up overeating on planes and the food is not always that healthy. Buy some healthy snacks to take with you. Good options include seeds, dried fruit and nuts such as Brazil nuts and pistachios.
Get ready to go
Taking a few precautions before you go will stand you in good stead should any holiday mishaps occur and make sure your holiday health remains on tip top form:
Depending on your destination, check with your GP or practice nurse if vaccinations are necessary and if malaria tablets are advisable. If they are, start taking them as directed before you set off.
If you are on prescription medicines make sure you pack enough to last you through your holiday. Many are available over the counter abroad but never assume these will be exactly the same as in the UK.
Kit yourself out
Put together a first aid kit just in case (see below) and make sure you have adequate travel insurance and you understand the level of cover it offers. Some policies, for example, don’t include potentially dangerous sports such as water skiing.
Bring important medical documents with you
This includes your health insurance card, a brief history of any chronic conditions such as diabetes, or past treatment for specific conditions or illnesses.
Take a probiotic
Taking a multi strain high potency probiotic at least two weeks before you set off on your trip can help to build up levels of good bacteria in your stomach which will help protect against any foreign bacteria, You should continue to take it while you are on holiday and for another two weeks when you return. Grapeseed fruit extract is another supplement worth considering.
The natural health travel kit
Don’t leave home without a basic first aid kit. Include plasters, scissors, bandages, tweezers, antiseptic wipes plus some natural remedies. Don’t pack it in your hand luggage though as it may not get through security. Here is a list of some essential herbal remedies to support your holiday health:
Lavender essential oil
Rich in antibacterial properties, lavender can soothe bites, scrapes and stings. It can also help to soothe sunburn as well as ease headaches and induce sleep
Arnica helps reduce swelling and inflammation from strains, sprains, bumps and bruises. Arnica 6c tablets can boost tissue repair after injuries.
Tea tree oil
Tea Tree oil is a powerful antiseptic and anti-inflammatory and can be used for minor injuries such as cuts and grazes as well as mosquito bites. Unlike most other essential oils it can be applied directly to skin.
If you accidentally over dose on the sun, aloe vera gel can help to cool things down. It can also be used on cuts.
A probiotic supplement such as acidophilus, helps keep the balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut. This in turn helps protect against intestinal infections.
Rescue remedy can help to calm things down at difficult moments such as long journeys or when things don’t go according to plan. Take directly under the tongue or dilute in a glass of water and sip slowly.