International travel can be a rich and rewarding experience and New Zealanders take more than two million overseas trips each year.
Planning for a holiday is great fun. Saving up for it can be hard work though, so the last thing you want is to fall sick once you’ve jetted off. Such a waste of time and money!Here are some healthy tips to help you make the most of your leisure time.
- Inoculations. New Zealand is a healthy country – some destinations aren’t so lucky. Rabies, typhoid fever, malaria, measles – many countries around the world still suffer from outbreaks of preventable disease. So six to eight weeks before your departure you should consult your doctor about any inoculations that are advised.
- Appropriate attire. Long-sleeved clothing and insect repellant to minimise the chance of dengue fever, sunscreen and a broad-brimmed hat to help avoid sunburn and enclosed shoes to help avoid tetanus are all examples of appropriate attire. Dress to suit the conditions in which you are travelling and you may save yourself a lot of discomfort.
- Travel Insurance. Ensure you have an adequate travel insurance policy in place, including accident and illness cover, even for pre-existing conditions. Travel with copies of the policy details and contacts in case you need to advise the insurer. Our travel insurance star rating report provides guidance on how to find a good value policy.
- Medication. If you require medication, leave enough time to contact your airline to determine how to comply with enhanced airport and air travel security regulations. Pack an ample supply of medication in the original container to avoid customs problems.
- Reading glasses. Pack extra glasses and medicines in your hand luggage so they will be available in the event that your checked luggage is lost.
- Special medical needs.If you suffer allergies, reactions to certain medication or foods, sensitivity to insect bites or other unique medical problems, consider wearing a medical alert bracelet. You may also wish to carry a letter from your doctor explaining desired treatment should you become ill.
- Breathing problems ““ Air pollution and high altitudes are a particular health risk for vulnerable people, so talk to your doctor before traveling. In high altitude areas it is also wise to spend the first few days quietly adjusting to the change. Reactions to high altitudes may include lack of energy, shortness of breath, occasional dizziness and insomnia.
- Drink bottled water. In many countries local tap water can be contaminated in some way, which can cause stomach upsets. If possible, drink only bottled water that is sealed. Clean your teeth with bottled water as well and be aware that ice cubes can also be a trap.
- Look before you eat. You might have a cast iron stomach back home but foods we’re not used to can bring the best of us undone. Simple precautions go a long way when you travel. Be mindful that salad greens may have been washed in unsafe tap water and fruit you cannot peel can also be contaminated. As a general rule, if you can’t peel it or cook it, do not eat it.
- Be aware of the road rules. Which side of the road do vehicles travel? Do pedestrians have right of way? Will the traffic stop at a red light? According to the World Health Organisation, traffic accidents are the most frequent cause of death among travelers. Being aware of the road rules in each country you visit can help you avoid injury.
- Be aware of your personal safety. Some countries are safer to visit than others, so make a point of checking the government’s Safe Travel website (safetravel.gov.nz) when you’re planning your itinerary.This official site classifies countries according to travel safety and issues advisories by destination, region and risk level. It is a valuable resource for all travelers. It’s important to be aware that your travel insurance may not cover you if you travel to countries that have an extreme risk travel advisory.
Do not use pill cases. Because of strict laws concerning narcotics throughout the world, take along copies of your prescriptions and, if possible, carry a letter from your doctor explaining your need for the drug. As an extra precaution, carry the generic names of your medications with you, because pharmaceutical companies overseas may use different names from those used in Australia.
Travel can provide you with memories that will stay with you for life. Staying safe and healthy will help ensure that all the memories are good!