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The Healthy Travel Checklist – Part 2
If you often have a need to take prescription medicines, such as a course of antibiotics for an infection, you may want to bring a just-in-case course. If you have been asthmatic in the past, consider packing an inhaler in case air pollution is bad on arrival. It also pays to know what suits you and what doesn’t. If you are allergic to penicillin, do you know that this precludes taking amoxicillin, flucloxacillin and Augmentin? NHS rules mean that just-in-case medicines required for travel are generally available only on a private prescription, even if you are exempt from prescription charges. The NHS also usually only funds up to two months of medication at a time; if you are off on a long trip, you might need private prescriptions for, say, six months of tablets. Pharmacy charges for such prescriptions are variable, so it is worth shopping around. However get to know your doctor before the trip and they may give larger amounts on a current prescription.
While medical care in the European Union is currently covered by your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC; check you have one and that it is in date), it is wise to take out travel insurance to cover other expenses, such as evacuation. Declare everything or you risk not being covered; many policies don’t cover trips above certain altitudes or extreme sports. Also, check what you will need post-Brexit.
Have a think about what you need to buy. Maybe one or two good water bottles depending on where you are travelling. Know their volume so that you can work out how many purifiers to add later and also keep track of your fluid intake. I often travel with two one-litre bottles. Remember to replenish your repellent and sunscreen if you have had it since last year then remember the latter’s shelf life is usually about a year. Sunglasses bought abroad may not be UV protective, so buy a good pair in the UK beforehand. Also, stock up on a few paracetamols as well as antihistamines (cetirizine or loratadine) and Steristrips for a minimalist first aid kit.
When people think of travel health, many assume that organising jabs is just about going to your GP’s surgery or a private travel clinic, but you will need to allow time. Practice nurses don’t prioritise injections for holidays over diabetes care, for example, and even private clinics can get booked up. Some courses of injections require a couple of months to complete, so the sooner you make your first appointment the better, although accelerated schedules can be arranged. It is worth keeping a spreadsheet of your immunisations, as it is easy to lose record cards, especially if they are done by different clinics. Whoever you see, you’ll save money if you check out the health requirements for your destination before attending the clinic. The best website for this is the NHS (fitfortravel.nhs.uk); use it to find out about potential problems such as malaria risk. So now you are good to go, so enjoy yourself.
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