By: Any Patton, International SOS
As we fast approach the height of the summer holidays, International SOS, the world’s leading medical & security services company, has compiled the following five pieces of advice every traveller should read before setting off.
At International SOS, we receive and respond to thousands of calls each day through our 26 Assistance Centres around the globe, and we see that certain issues are more prevalent, depending on the season. In the summer months, many of our members take trips further from home, often to unfamiliar destinations, where they tend to spend more time outdoors. During this busy season, extra vigilance and advance planning can go a long way toward avoiding common summer travel pitfalls.
While each destination has its own set of unique challenges, the tips that follow are applicable to most international travel locations.
Don’t wait with health concerns
In some locations, such as remote areas, it can take hours or days to locate and travel to an appropriate medical treatment centre. When you are in unfamiliar territory, you can’t afford to wait and see if a problem worsens. Travellers should act quickly at the first sign of a health issue and seek help through a travel assistance provider or local resource as soon as possible.
Test the waters
Each summer travel season, International SOS sees an uptake in water-related accidents and illness. When swimming, remember that the water does not need to be very deep to cause trouble. Swift currents, rocks, tree branches and other submerged objects can cause serious bodily harm. Cold water can also be extremely dangerous, causing hypothermia even in hot weather. When combined with alcohol consumption and an unfamiliar environment, the dangers mount significantly. When it comes to consuming liquids, from tap water to ice cubes, be sure to familiarise yourself with the country’s water safety recommendations to avoid illness, and when in doubt, stick to sealed bottled water.
Mind the bite
Bites and scratches from animals and insects – including dogs, cats, monkeys, bats and mosquitoes – can cause major issues for travellers so make sure you have had the necessary medications and injections to protect you before you travel. Keep your distance from animals when travelling and avoid the temptation to pet them, no matter how cute they may be.
Manage your medications
When travelling, carry a copy of the prescription written by your doctor and keep all medications in their original containers with labels intact. Note that some medications must be kept within a certain temperature range. Avoid leaving these prescriptions in a hot luggage compartment or car trunk. Bring at least a week’s worth of extra doses of any medication you take regularly, to avoid running out if you are side lined by an extended travel delay.
Take care of your skin
One of the quickest and most damaging injuries affecting travellers is sunburn. Exposed and unprotected skin can burn in as little as 15 minutes, and those burns can become quite severe. Use a sunscreen with a high SPF. In addition, limit time spent in direct sun, particularly during peak hours (10am to 4pm), wearing a hat and sunglasses. Re-apply sunscreen often, particularly after enjoying a dip in the pool or ocean.