Visit your GP to find out what vaccinations are advised for the country you’re visiting, and allow adequate time to get them. If you’re going to be in a malaria zone, get professional advice on the right anti-malarial treatments and precautions to take. See www.masta-travel-health.com for details of Masta travel, a specialist travel health organisation with clinics around the country.
Take out appropriate medical insurance before you leave and make sure you know what it covers. Keep important details, including emergency contact information, in a safe place.
Take with you a note of your blood group and other significant medical information (for example, if you are allergic to particular medical treatments), in case you need unexpected medical attention. It’s not always so obvious whether the water you’re about to drink is safe – remember to take care. It might be a good idea to have a check-up with your dentist too, before you go.
In hot climates, drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration (your hosts may not realise how much you need), and be aware of the symptoms of dehydration. Take some sachets of rehydration therapy with you, in case you need it, and/or information about how to make your own.
Be aware of the risks of drinking contaminated water – and remember that this also means the ice in your drinks or the water any uncooked food may have been washed in. Reduce risk by drinking boiled, filtered or sterilised water, or factory-made soft drinks. Bottled water should normally be safer than tap water or water from other unknown sources, but check that it has an unbroken factory seal – the fact that it’s in a bottle doesn’t necessarily mean it didn’t come from a tap.
Take care with your eating too. Avoid salads and other uncooked foods if there’s a risk that they’ve been washed in unclean water or not washed at all.
Eat fruit that you can peel hygienically. Avoid uncooked or undercooked meat, or food that’s been kept warm.