Travelling to an exotic holiday destination may be something to do on your bucket list or a ‘live in the moment’ snap decision, but all being said and done about YOLO (you only live once), it is advisable to take a few key precautions before packing your suitcase.
Here is some valuable advice for customers needing travel assistance.
Medical Travel Kit
First and foremost, remember to travel with a medical kit. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sufficient medical supplies should be packed to meet foreseeable needs for the duration of the trip. “A medical kit should be carried for all destinations where there may be significant health risks and include basic medicines to treat common ailments, first aid articles and other special medical items according to destination and individual needs.”
WHO also advises travellers to carry a medical card or other document showing their blood group and information about any current medical problems or treatment. “Certain categories of prescription medicine or special medical items should be carried together with a medical attestation on a letterhead signed by a physician to certify that the traveller requires the medication or items for a medical condition.”
Be informed about your holiday destination and the country you’re travelling to. A visit to the World Health Organization (www.who.int) website provides an overview of health issues globally. The South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation is also a mine of useful information (visit http://www.dirco.gov.za/consular/travel_advice.htm).
Find out from your local travel agent or the foreign representative in South Africa of the country you’re travelling to, about visa requirements. Absolutely critical to check is whether there are any health risks listed for where you are visiting, and what vaccinations are required in order for you to be given access to that country.
According to the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), prescribed immunisations and/or medication can prevent serious long-term and fatal diseases.
DIRCO strongly recommends that you take out travel insurance before travelling abroad. Travel insurance should cover hospitalisation and related medical costs as well as possible emergency evacuation.
Depending on the destination, DIRCO also offers the following basic precautionary measures:
- Avoid drinks with ice
- Be careful of vegetable or fruit grown on the ground (e.g. lettuce, strawberries) and served raw
- Avoid mayonnaise and other egg-based sauces
- Avoid street foods
- Peel fruits before eating them
- Use insect repellent
- Wear appropriate clothing
Long Distance Travel
When it comes to long distance travel by aircraft, skin dryness and discomfort to the eyes, mouth and nose can be experienced due to the low humidity in the aircraft cabins. WHO recommends using skin moisturising lotion, saline nasal spray to moisturise the nasal passages and to wear eye glasses rather than contact lenses to relieve or prevent discomfort to the eyes.
Since caffeine and alcohol have a diuretic effect (causing more urine to be produced), WHO says it is wise to limit consumption of such beverages during long flights.
“Contraction of muscles is an important factor in helping to keep blood flowing through the veins, particularly in the legs. Prolonged immobility, especially when seated, can lead to pooling of blood in the legs, which in turn may cause swelling, stiffness and discomfort.”
General advice to passengers from WHO includes moving around the cabin during long flights to help reduce any period of prolonged immobility. “Many airlines provide helpful advice on exercises that can be carried out in the seat during the flight. Exercise of the calf muscles can stimulate the circulation, alleviate discomfort, fatigue and stiffness.”
Finally, become familiar with the culture and laws of the country. Remember that you are not exempt from these as a tourist! DIRCO recommends that you inform yourself of the safety risks in the country. “Do not attract attention to yourself with expensive jewellery and clothing. Avoid flashing cash. Get to know the foreign currency and use a note that requires the smallest amount of change to be returned to you.” Importantly, know where you are going, keep a map with you, and consult it regularly.
With all these preparations in hand, you can enjoy your getaway with certain peace of mind. Now relax, have fun, send us your vacay selfies and keep safe. BON VOYAGE!