Four (very) simple ways to stay healthy when travelling.

Don’t let the flu or an upset stomach ruin your holiday. Here are some tips from Skyscanner Australia about how to stay healthy when travelling.

Before you travel

Staying healthy when you’re travelling starts with good preparations before you even leave for your destination. Book a doctor’s appointment and gather any prescriptions you may need. You should also make sure your vaccinations are up to date. You can check Smart Traveller to see if you need specific vaccinations for your destination. Some countries may also require anti-malaria medications, but always consult your doctor before taking any medicines. If you’re carrying multiple medications it is a good idea to ask your doctor to print a doctor’s note explaining your need for your medicines and any related medical history. This is handy in airports but also good to have with you in case of a medical emergency at your destination.

Before travelling research your destination. If you have a chronic illness or dietary requirement it may be good to know a few phrases in the local language explaining any issues you might have. Make some flash cards or save some phrases to your phone. Also take note of the local hospital or medical centre and any restaurants that cater to special dietary needs.

You should also buy travel insurance before you go. If you can’t afford travel insurance you can’t afford to travel.

On the plane

Being on a plane for an extended period can sometimes feel like you’re in a flying tube of germs. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make the experience a bit more pleasant. When you get on the plane sanitise your space using anti-bacterial wipes. Nasty germs like E. coli (which causes diarrhoea) and the superbug MRSA have been found to stay alive on surfaces in planes for up to a week, including on the seat pocket in front of you. Wipe down your tray table, arm-rests, seat pocket and seat belt. Pay special attention to your seat back TV screen, remote or anything else that is touched regularly.


As soon as you get on, wipe down anything that is regularly touched.

It’s actually a very good idea to keep your air vent on and positioned so the air flow goes right in front of your face. This will assist in blowing away any infectious nasties that may be coming your way.

Whilst you’re on the plane be sure to get up and stretch regularly to avoid deep vein thrombosis. You may also like to try a pair of anti-DVT socks. The effects of alcohol are more strongly felt when you’re in the air, so go easy on the booze. It’s also easy to get dehydrated so be sure to keep a bottle of water handy and take regular sips.

If you can, try and adjust your sleeping patterns to match your destination as soon as you get on the plane. This can help with jet lag when you arrive.

On the ground

You’ve survived your flight in one piece, so don’t ruin all that by getting a stomach bug seconds after arriving.

Holly talks about how she took headlice on holiday with her despite treating her kids' hair for weeks before they left. (Post continues after audio.)

There are some places where it isn’t safe to drink the tap water. You can look up advice for specific countries at Smart Traveller but as a general rule, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, you should drink bottled water on the continents of Africa and South America. In Asia, water is considered safe in Hong Kong, Singapore, Israel, Japan and South Korea. In Europe the water varies, most Western European countries are considered to have safe tap water but always check first. Canada and USA have safe tap water but you should drink bottled water in Mexico.


You should apply the same standards when brushing your teeth and ordering your food. Avoid drinks with ice or salads in countries where the water isn’t safe.

Street food is one of travel’s greatest pleasures. When deciding if food is safe to eat have a look at the line of people waiting. If there’s a high turnover and food is being prepared fresh in front of you, and made to order, you’re less likely to encounter a nasty bug. Make sure the food is piping hot (or ice cold as the case may be).

Make sure your food is completely cooked (or super cold, if that's the case)!

As well as paying attention to what you eat and drink it’s also important to plan some rest periods when you travel. Burn out happens and it can really spoil your holiday. Try and get a good sleep when you can and plan to have some slow days mixed in with other excitement.

What to pack in your first aid kit

It pays to be prepared, so have a small first aid kit and a few medicines in your day pack with you at all times. Things you may like to pack include:

  • Hand sanitiser
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Bandaids, bandages, gauze
  • Tweezers
  • Antiseptic
  • Scissors
  • Insect repellent and treatment for bites
  • Pain killers
  • Anti diarrheal medications
  • Travel sickness medicine
  • Antacids
  • Mild laxatives
  • Antihistamines
  • Sachets of electrolyte replacement powder (for diarrhoea)
  • Cold and flu tablets
  • Throat lozenges
  • Thermometer
  • Ear plugs
  • Eye drops
  • Sunscreen
  • Condoms

This post was originally published on Skyscanner and has been republished with full permission.