Getting Sick When You Travel Can Be Pretty Easy

It’s easier than you think to get sick whilst on holiday. You’re in a foreign land that your body isn’t used to, and you’re likely to be exposed to different germs than you would be back home. No-one wants to be sick in bed when they should be sight-seeing, exploring and sunbathing on the beach, so we’ve pulled together a list of ten ways that you’re likely to get sick whilst travelling; ensure that you avoid them at all costs.

1. Drink A Lot Of Tap Water

Tap water is actually safe to drink most places in the world, for locals that is. With an abundance of different bacteria and water filtration systems that may not be up to scratch, your belly isn’t used to foreign water and its best avoided. Stick to bottled water with sealed lids that you know for sure haven’t been filled up from the taps, and always decline the offer to add ice to your drinks. Similarly, if you are visiting an area known for contracting tummy bugs, it’s best to avoid salad and fruit that may have been washed in tap water.

Best 10 Ways To Get Sick When Travelling - The Wise Traveller - Drinking water

You might also like to read: How To Stay Hydrated on Long Haul Flights

2. Drink Too Little Water

If you’re visiting somewhere with a hot and humid climate, ensure that you up your water intake to avoid dehydration. It’s worth remembering that coffee and alcohol will only dehydrate you further and if you’re sipping cocktails all day in the sun, you need to drink plenty of water to avoid getting ill. You’re also more likely to become dehydrated on an airplane, so take a large bottle of water with you on your flight to avoid starting off your trip on the wrong foot.

3. Don't Wash Your Hands

Whether you’ve been stroking animals, sat on the ground or been for a swim, there are numerous ways that you can pick up bugs on your hands. Always wash your hands with soap and warm water before eating, better yet carry a bottle of alcohol based hand sanitiser with you at all times to minimise the risk of passing bacteria into your mouth.

4. Wild Swimming

Unless you know for sure that the water is safe for swimming, don’t be tempted to jump in, however hot the weather is. As a general rule, stick to swimming in locations mentioned in guidebooks, or frequented by other tourists. Just because you see locals splashing around doesn’t mean it is safe for you. Check for pipes emptying their contents into the body of water, evidence of nearby factories, algae on the surface of the water or any warning signs. Sometimes even the most inviting water can have toxic properties. If you do decide to go for a swim, keep your face above water and your mouth closed to minimise the chance of swallowing the water.

Best 10 Ways To Get Sick When Travelling - The Wise Traveller - Wild Swimming

5. Skip Those Injections

You might think ‘it won’t happen to me’, but if you are visiting a part of the world that is synonymous with a particular disease, ensure that you are fully immunised. You definitely don’t want to spend your trip cooped up in hospital, and you certainly don’t want to bring a tropical disease home with you.

6. Leave Your Medication At Home

Just because it’s easy to get hold of your prescription at home doesn’t mean that you’ll track down what you need when you are travelling. Ensure that you bring a decent supply of any medication that you are taking with you whilst abroad, just in case you can’t find what you need when you’re on the other side of the world.

7. Eat Undercooked Food

Be careful of where you eat when travelling, and don’t be tempted to dine in restaurants filled only with locals or situated well off the beaten path if you have a sensitive stomach. Stick to eateries frequenting by tourists and ensure that you ask for your meat cooked well done to avoid cases of food poisoning. If you do want to be a bit more adventurous, ensure that your food is piping hot and cooked all the way through prior to eating.

Best 10 Ways To Get Sick When Travelling - The Wise Traveller - Well done meat

8. Spend Too Much Time In The Sun

It may be the reason you hopped onto a plane, but be wary of spending entire days basking in the sun. Keep your sunbathing time to a reasonable level, take regular breaks in the shade, keep hydrated and cover your skin in sunscreen to avoid a whole host of nasty consequences to enjoying the sunshine. You could end up with sunstroke, dehydration, sunburn, or even skin cancer if you don’t think responsibly when it comes to sunbathing.

9. Ignore Any Research

Never visit a new destination without first checking the health risks on the CDC website. You may think that you’re prepared and aware, but it’s always worth checking the facts before you travel to see if you’re in a high risk category for any particular illnesses you may contract. Whilst you don’t want to spend your entire holiday feeling paranoid, it’s good to know what situations are best avoided.

10. Don’t Sleep Enough

It’s easy to get carried away with exploring a new place, and feeling like you want to stay up all night to soak it all in. But don’t forget that sleep is your best bet for fighting off any illnesses that you may pick up, and for avoiding getting sick in the first place. Ensure that you get plenty of rest and you’ll hopefully spend your holiday feeling as fresh as a daisy.

Best 10 Ways To Get Sick When Travelling - The Wise Traveller - Sleeping

Click here for other articles on travelling healthy.

Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.