Being unwell can be miserable at the best of times, least of all on your honeymoon. Though it’s hard to completely avoid getting ill, here’s my tips for keeping healthy while you’re away:
- Make sure you have all the necessary vaccinations Having a needle stuck in your arm is never much fun, but if you’re travelling beyond Europe then you should definitely talk to your doctor, nurse or local travel clinic about whether you need any vaccinations – after all, a small moment of discomfort is better than picking up anything nasty. Try not to leave this till the last minute – around 6 weeks before you travel is ideal.
- Take anti-malarials if you’re travelling to a malarial area A surprising number of tropical countries aren’t malarial, but check with your doctor or on the excellent Fit For Travel to find out if they’ll be needed for your honeymoon destination. There’s a rather mind-boggling range of anti-malarials on the market – your doctor will recommend which is best for the country you’re visiting and write you a private prescription (the NHS don’t provide them). Malarone is often considered the best in terms of side-effects, and I’ve certainly not had problems with it before, but do check with a medical professional. Anti-malarials can be pricey, but Malaria is a serious and dangerous disease, so they’re a worthwhile investment.
- Use mosquito repellent Yep, it smells and doesn’t feel great on your skin, but mozzie repellent (even in places without a malarial risk) is a much better option than waking up covered in itchy red bites. Mosquitoes are particularly vicious at night, so make sure you spray any exposed skin before you head out in the evenings.
- Slather on the suntan lotion Remember that the sun in other countries is often much stronger than it is here in the UK – and that you can get burnt even on an overcast day. Aside from the scary risk of skin cancer, sun damage to your skin can be excruciating, not to mention rather embarrassing.
- Drink lots of water Whether you’re lazing on the beach or hiking through the Alps on your honeymoon, it’s really important to keep hydrated, as dehydration is one of the easiest ways to start feeling a bit groggy and horrid while you’re away.
- Check whether the tap water is drinkable If you’re travelling to a more “developed” country then chances are you can drink straight from the tap, but many countries have poor water supply. If buying bottled water, make sure that the seal is unbroken, and it can even be worth avoiding brushing your teeth with tap water. If you’re concerned about the amount of plastic you’ll get through if you buy bottled water the whole time, then consider getting one of these nifty little pens.
- Eat local food (but exercise a little caution) A lot of guidebooks will tell you not to eat salad or fruit or veg that can’t be peeled and hasn’t been cooked, in case it’s washed in contaminated water, and to avoid ice for the same reason. This can be hard to exercise when you’re actually there (especially the ice), however, and while (if you’re in a “less developed” country) it pays to be a bit cautious, you don’t want to miss out on lots of wonderful local food because you’re too worried about what could happen. My general approach is to avoid food that looks like it has been sitting around for a while, choose places that are full of customers (which is generally going to demand a certain freshness), eat at street stalls where the food is freshly cooked in front of you, and to trust my judgement and not eat anything that looks a bit dodgy (as I learnt to my peril after eating a rather grey curry in India). If you do get food poisoning, rest as much as possible, drink lots of water, and speak to a local pharmacist – they’ll often be able to give you re-hydration salts or something similar to help rehydrate you.
- Remember to take any medication with you Including contraception, and anything (like an inhaler) that you might need, especially as it may not be available over the counter in your honeymoon destination. It’s always worthwhile taking a packet of painkillers with you, and also a box of plasters – my holidays pretty much always start with my feet rubbing painfully against my new sandals.
- Take out travel insurance So that if you do get ill and need healthcare (or, in the worst-case scenario, repatriation), you’re covered. My post here on insurance covers everything you need to know. If you live in the UK and are travelling to Europe, get a free EHIC card which will cover you for medical treatment.
- Get vaccinated Okay, I know I’ve already said this, but it’s really important and worth reiterating – plus, it means you can go on honeymoon and not worry so much about getting ill. If you’re still not convinced, read this page from STA Travel.
Photo courtesy of *Micky