Staying healthy abroad

A bit of preparation will help you travel further
Most people taking a gap year will spend some time travelling outside the UK. This can be exciting and fun and will provide you with a wide variety of experiences that will give you a different view of the world, its climate, its peoples and their customs.

But travelling can suddenly cease to be fun if you become ill. here are the steps you can take before you go to reduce the chances of becoming ill on your travels.


Immunisations (jabs). You can consult your provider, GP, a specialist travel health clinic or a specialist website about what you need. Most common are Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Diptheria/Tetanus. Get all your jabs done well in advance of your departure date (ideally 3 months) and keep an immunisation card with your documents.

Malaria. Take specialist advice on whether you need to take antimalarias and if you do then what to take, when to start and to  finish.

Insect Bites. beside malaria, ticks can carry other diseases. The National Travel Health Centre and Network (NaTHNaC) offers some very useful advice on how best to protect yourself from insect bites.

Medical Insurance. It is really essential. Buy it a few weeks before you depart so you covered if you get ill just before you leave. Make sure it covers all the places you intend to visit and all the activities you might wish to pursue. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, e.g. asthma, tell the insurance company.

Apply for  the free Global Health Travel Insurance Card This entitles UK citizens to free emergency health care in the EU and Switzerland but you should also take out imsurance too as it wont cover every scenario


Doctors and Dentists. Have a dental check at least two weeks before you travel, so that remedial action can be taken before you depart. If you have any nagging pain or don’t feel yourself, visit the doctor too.
Personal Medicines. Take enough of any medication you use quite often such as an asthma spray or if you are prone to recurring conditions.

Know your blood group. Worst case is someone needs a blood transfusion. It will save time and could save a life. Make sure its easy for others to find.

Health Supplies. Consider buying a First Aid/Health Kit and do buy a mosquito net if you are going to an area where malaria is prevalent or midges are a major feature.

Health supplies

Health supplies to take with you

  • Simple syringe and needle kit
  • First aid kit
  • Diarrhoea kit
  • Medical kit
  • Water Purification kit
  • Insect repellent
  • Sun cream/lip balm
  • Hand gel (if no soap and water)
  • Contraception
  • Contact-lens cleaner

Useful websites

Global health Travel Insurance Card application (free fo charge) is the Foreign Office travel website homepage The National Travel Health Network and Clinics. Additional useful advice. Health advice by country and risk & contact for English-speaking doctors and clinics all over the world.

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