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Doctor's Notes: Holiday Basics

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Going on holiday is the highlight of the year for most, but unfortunately the build up and preparation for departure can be a stressful time!

Of course a trip to Majorca is not as complicated as a safari in Kenya, but each trip needs a bit of planning, and doing a bit of preparation will help reduce the stress as the departure date draws nearer.

First up are travel vaccinations. For those of you planning a holiday somewhere exotic, thinking well ahead in terms of vaccinations is vital. Most travel vaccines can be given by the nurse at your GP surgery, but some, like Yellow Fever, are only provided by approved centres. Make an appointment to see the practice nurse at least 8 weeks before you travel so that you have time to fit in all the vaccines - they can't all be given together!

If you or a family member take prescription medicines, make sure you have plenty to last the holiday and some extra in case of delays. Make a note of the names too so that if you lose them, you will be able to tell a local doctor what you are on. All drugs have two names so write them both down - some drugs have different names in different countries.

If your treatment means you need to take needles with you, ask your GP for a covering letter. While airlines are understandably strict on what you are allowed in hand luggage more often than not a simple covering letter from your GP will smooth your journey through airport security!

Another thing to be aware of, is that there are some illnesses or medical problems that directly affect your ability to fly. Those flying for medical treatment, shortly after some surgeries and even those that need special facilities such as oxygen onboard, may all face difficulties. If you have a medical condition that my affect your fitness to fly, check with your airline well in advance so they can give you advice.

Travel insurance is also an absolute must. Please, please, please don't leave the country without travel insurance! It may be tempting to try and save the small amount it costs for insurance in the short run, but believe me if you end up needing medical treatment whilst abroad, you'll be glad to be covered. The cost of treating even minor ailments in foreign countries can come as a nasty shock. The UK has a reciprocal arrangement with many European countries, but you will need an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC - available in post offices), to allow you to access free treatment.

Finally, I always recommend that you travel with at least a very basic first aid kit. Again, depending on where you are going, even the most basic and familiar medicines can be extremely hard to come by. It goes without saying that any prescription medicines must be included, and some other basics I always take on my family holidays are: Paracetamol, an anti-inflammatory (ibuprofen), antihistamines, antiseptic cream, insect repellant, travel sickness pills, diarrhoea medicine and some rehydration sachets, probiotic supplements and a selection of plasters or bandages.

Taking the time to think about how you and your family can prepare for a trip abroad as far in advance of your hols will not only ease some of the stress, but also means you'll be able to deal with whatever comes up on your travels.
Bon Voyage!

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