when you’ve been waiting months for your holiday, getting sick while you’re away is about the the worst thing that can happen. And unfortunately, it’s something that does happen.
I think I’ve always taken holiday health seriously, and I’ve certainly always made sure that I have adequate travel insurance. But I have to admit, I began to worry much more about holiday health once I became a mum and we started travelling as a family with a young child.
There are ways to avoid common health problem abroad, though, and you should never be so afraid of illness and injury that you never travel.
Drinking bottled water and avoiding ice in drinks is one thing you can always do to help avoid sickness, but here are five more of my top tips to help you stay healthy on your family trip:
Watch Where and What You Eat
Oooh those hotel buffets have the power to make us all act like kids in sweet shops! But before you push forward with your plate, just stop and think. First of all, would you eat fish, lasagne and chicken chow mein all on the same plate at home? Nope. Didn’t think so. Remember that hygiene aside, your own choices could make you feel a bit sick. But buffets can be a good option if you have fussy kids – these days they’re a staple of all inclusive family holidays, but always go with your children and check you’re happy with what they’re choosing.
Is it hot enough? Are the staff replenishing the food and taking away the stuff that’s been on the counter for a while? And if something doesn’t taste quite right, stop. If there’s any doubt just don’t eat it. Personally, I don’t do buffets any more – I find self catering, when I can either prepare simple safe meals myself, or eat out in well established restaurants, a much safer option. Half a week’s holiday written off on the toilet years ago in an all inclusive in Egypt has taught me that lesson. I have no wish to learn it twice.
Stay Sun Safe
It seems so obvious, doesn’t it? But it’s easy to forget to keep reapplying the sunscreen after pool time. I always remember being fished out of the water by my dad as a kid – we’d get the towel pat down, the sun cream slap on from mum, and then we’d be plonked back at the water’s edge. I used to hate it, but I can honestly say I have never really been sunburned, and I do exactly the same with Holiday Baby.
However, I think a hidden danger of the sun can be heatstroke. And that’s why sun hats, shade in the middle of the day, and hydration are so important. A few years ago, I had to deal with a very poorly husband who ended up sick, shivering while still sweating and covered in a bright red rash after a day of sightseeing in the height of a Mediterranean summer. Fortunately, he was fully recovered in 24 hours, but his case of heat exhaustion could have developed into full blown heatstroke which can actually be fatal. Children and babies are particularly at risk, but if you take the right precautions and drink plenty of water, everyone will be just fine.
Pack a First Aid Kit
Small first aid kits ideal for holidays are available in big UK pharmacies and they are great. You get stuff like plasters, basic bandages, sterile wipes and eyewash. It’s well worth having one of these in your suitcase so you’re prepared for the standard injuries kids get at home when they’re playing outside like splinters, minor cuts and grazed knees. And if all you suffer from is having your new sandals rub your feet, you’re bound to find something in the kit to solve the problem!
Take Care in Swimming Pools and Water Parks
It’s easy to forget about weighing up risks on holiday, but it’s important to be sensible when you’re out and about at swimming pools and water parks as well as on the beach. Hotel pools generally have rules – read and follow them. They are there to make sure you get home in one piece. No diving? The rule is there for a reason. And take extra care when using inflatables – that giant blow up flamingo isn’t meant to be a life saver. Oh and when you go on that big day trip to the water park, just make sure you weigh up everything your kids are bugging to you to go on before they go near it.
Be Prepared to Be Bitten
Greece is my favourite simmer holiday destination, but unfortunately, mosquitoes love it there too. Avoiding and treating bites, especially on my young son is something I plan and pack for carefully. A plug in mosquito killer and baby friendly mosquito patches are brilliant. I stick the patches on Holiday Baby’s buggy and bed – and I spray us all with deet free repellent, which I also carry out with us in the evenings for top ups. Forewarned is forearmed, and forearmed means you’re likely to have a bite free holiday.
All in all, a few simple steps and precautions can keep you and your family healthy on holiday so that everyone can enjoy every minute. Let’s face it, that one fortnight away a year is all most of us with busy lives and full time jobs can get. But if you do get sick, and it isn’t your fault, it is possible to get help and advice on what you can do, and what your rights are if you feel like you might be entitled to holiday sickness compensation.