Stay healthy on your gap year

Advice for staying healthy while travelling

Staying healthy on your gap year is vital if you are to enjoy every last moment of your gap year experience. An upset tummy, sickness and diarrhea are also among the most common complaints for travellers. It can be one of the few downsides of travelling and can be frustrating if it affects your trip or delays your plans. The best advice is to try your best to avoid getting sick in the first place! However, there are some basic precautions you can put in place to prevent getting sick while you are abroad.

Here are our top tips for staying healthy while travelling:

Visit your GP or Travel Clinic

You should visit your GP/travel clinic at least six weeks before your departure. Tell your doctor which countries you are visiting and what kind of activities you plan to do. Ideally, take a detailed itinerary with you as some health risks apply to certain parts of the country but not others. Your doctor will then be able to advise you of any vaccinations or medication you'll need, and give you tips on how to stay healthy while travelling.

Avoid mosquitoes and malaria

It is important to check if you are visiting a region where malaria is a risk and your doctor can advise you of this. Avoiding mosquitoes and malaria is a top priority, and if you are travelling to a malaria area, you will need to take malaria tablets. These can be expensive but don't be tempted to cut corners on price, it's not worth it. Malaria is a very unpleasant disease and something you want to avoid at all costs if you want to stay healthy while travelling.

Check you medication

It is important to check if you are visiting a region where malaria is a risk and your doctor can advise you of this. Avoiding mosquitoes and malaria is a top priority, and if you are travelling to a malaria area, you will need to take malaria tablets. These can be expensive but don't be tempted to cut corners on price, it's not worth it. Malaria is a very unpleasant disease and something you want to avoid at all costs if you want to stay healthy while travelling.

Take a first aid kit

It is advisable to take a small first aid kit with you to help you stay healthy while travelling. You can purchase travel specific kits or you can simply assemble one yourself.

Wash your hands

Carry anti-bacterial hand gel with you and use it frequently. Some toilets overseas don't have soap. You can use this gel to wash your hands after going to the toilet and before eating to stay healthy.

Check the water

Ensure the local water is safe to drink. If it's not, or if you're not sure, drink bottled water. Check the seal is not broken. Avoid ice in drinks unless you're sure that it's been made from treated water.

Be careful with food

In order to stay healthy while travelling, you should introduce new foods to your body slowly. Let your body get used to a new diet and climate. As a general rule, stick to foods that have been cooked and make sure any meat has been well cooked. Make sure fruit and vegetables have been washed in safe water. If in doubt peel it yourself. Avoid cafes and restaurants that are empty or really quiet.

Look after yourself

If you are unlucky enough to fall ill while travelling, then you should make sure you re-hydrate properly, and drink plenty of fluids such as sugary tea and soup. You may need to seek out medical advice, and the sooner you get any problems treated, the sooner you can get healthy and carry on enjoying your gap year. If you do get a stomach upset you should:

  • Drink lots of fluids to prevent dehydration
  • Take some re-hydration packs with you so that you can quickly replace lost electrolytes, vitamins and minerals.
  • Eat bland food in small quantities

Most diarrhea should go within 36 hours. If the condition persists then visit a doctor or medical clinic. You can buy diarrhea tablets such as Imodium, which can help stop you up. It's best only to take these if you have to go on a long journey and won't have easy access to a toilet. If you do have a bug it is often best to get rid of it rather than keep it inside you, plus taking these tablets can make you constipated for a few days.

Follow these tips and you’ll have a great chance of staying healthy while travelling!