As the summer of 2024 approaches, many Scots are eagerly planning their holidays abroad. While the excitement of exploring new destinations is palpable, it’s crucial to prioritise staying healthy during your travels. This guide will equip you with practical strategies for staying healthy on your summer holidays, ensuring you make the most of your well-deserved break.

In this post, you’ll learn:

  • Essential preventative health measures before you travel
  • Tips for maintaining your wellbeing whilst abroad
  • How to handle common health issues that may arise on holiday

Let’s dive in and set you up for a healthy and enjoyable summer adventure.


1. Pre-Travel Health Preparations

Before you jet off to sunnier climes, a bit of preparation can go a long way to staying healthy.

Get Your Jabs Sorted

First things first, check if you need any vaccinations for your destination. Don’t leave this to the last minute – some vaccines need to be administered weeks before travel.

Pack a Personal Health Kit

Assemble a small health kit tailored to your needs. Include:

  • Any regular medications (pack extra in case of delays)
  • Painkillers
  • Plasters and antiseptic wipes
  • Insect repellent
  • Sun cream (at least SPF 30)
  • Rehydration sachets

You don’t want to be that one that’s arrived the paradise destination and turned it to a nightmare because you’ve forgotten to pack a well-stocked health kit that can save your holiday. Mom’s across the world have always been the champions of holidays. You can’t be overprepared, only underprepared.

Travel Insurance: Don’t Leave Home Without It

While it might seem like an unnecessary expense, comprehensive travel insurance can be a lifesaver. Make sure it covers any pre-existing conditions and activities you plan to do on holiday.


2. Staying Healthy While Abroad

Now that you’re prepared, let’s look at how to maintain your health during your summer holidays.

Stay Hydrated, Stay Happy

It’s easy to become dehydrated in hot climates, especially if you’re more active than usual. Aim to drink at least 2 litres of water a day. If you’re unsure about the local water quality, stick to bottled water.

Mind What You Eat

Trying local cuisine is one of the joys of travel, but be mindful of food safety. A study in the National Library of Medicine speaks of “Travellers’ diarrhoea.” It affects up to 50% of those visiting developing countries. It is primarily caused by various organisms, with enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli being the main culprit. Travellers can reduce their risk by eating and drinking cautiously. Additionally, they should have a rehydration and treatment plan ready to minimise the illness’s impact.

To reduce your risk:

  • Opt for freshly cooked, hot foods
  • Avoid raw or undercooked meats and seafood
  • Be cautious with street food – choose vendors with high turnover and good hygiene practices
  • Peel fruits yourself or stick to fruits with thick skins

Keep Moving

While holidays are for relaxation, maintaining some level of physical activity can boost your mood and health. Consider:

  • Morning beach walks
  • Swimming in the hotel pool
  • Exploring your destination on foot

Remember, every little bit of movement counts.

However, be very cautious when swimming in public swimming pools when on holiday as standards for cleaning public pools can be very different from what applies in the UK. Sometimes the pools aren’t cleaned as often or well, and sometimes too much cleaning agents are used. A recent patient of ours suffered from irritable eyes for 10 years from one holiday in 2014.


3. Handling Common Holiday Health Issues

Even with the best preparations, health niggles can occur. Here’s how to handle some common issues:

Sunburn: Prevention and Treatment

Despite our familiarity with rainy Scottish weather, many of us still fall victim to sunburn abroad. To avoid this:

  • Apply sunscreen generously and frequently
  • Seek shade during the hottest part of the day (usually 11am-3pm)
  • Wear protective clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat

If you do get burned, cool the skin with damp cloths and apply after-sun lotion. Stay hydrated and out of the sun until your skin heals.

A common skin condition that we see is Pityriasis Versicolor, uneven patches skin changing colour in the sun. It can occur due to increased heat and humidity.

Dealing with Digestive Troubles

If you experience travellers’ diarrhoea:

  • Stay hydrated with bottled water or oral rehydration solutions
  • Eat bland, easily digestible foods
  • Consider taking over-the-counter anti-diarrhoeal medication for short-term relief

Be sure to check medications purchased abroad for authenticity. Often times, a Google search of the product can alert you to certain red flags for that drug. Be careful. Seek professional medical advice from an accredited healthcare provider before taking medications.

If symptoms persist for more than a few days or are accompanied by fever, seek further medical attention.

Jet Lag: Minimising the Impact

Travelling across time zones can wreak havoc on your sleep patterns. To minimise jet lag:

  • Adjust your sleep schedule a few days before travel
  • Staying hydrated during your flight is important for staying healthy
  • Try to stay awake until the local bedtime at your destination


Ready, Prepped, Go

Staying healthy during your summer holidays doesn’t have to be a chore. With a bit of preparation and mindfulness, you can enjoy your time abroad to the fullest. Remember to:

  • Prepare adequately before you travel
  • Research common local health issues and prepare accordingly
  • Stay hydrated and eat mindfully
  • Keep active, but listen to your body
  • Know how to handle common health issues


By following these guidelines, you’re setting yourself up for a fantastic, healthy holiday. So go ahead, book that trip, and create some unforgettable memories.