Share few details about your trip and we'll brief you about the diseases that are found in the countries you're visiting and preventive measures.
- Make sure you and your children have received all boosters listed on the national child vaccine schedule
- Choose the food and drink you consume carefully to avoid food poisoning and other infections
- Choose a comprehensive travel insurance
- Take a European Health Insurance Card with you - it is free and it makes you eligible for medical treatment for free or at a reduced fee when travelling within the EU
- Research your destination and pack everything you need to stay safe - from sunscreen to insect repellent
General Travel Advice
We’re here to keep you protected from even the rarest of diseases. We prescribe anti-malarial tablets, and offer travel vaccines against all sorts of unusual illnesses like Japanese Encephalitis. Wherever it is you’re going, let us know, and we’re sure to have the vaccines you need. Our specialists are always happy to help.
We also offer a premium travel healthcare service that’s local and affordable for everyone. Our specialist nurses will give you your complete travel healthcare services.
Sun and Heat
When we travel to really hot or tropical climates, the rapid change in humidity and temperature can have some adverse effects on our health. Heat disorders range from the mild and also some major disorders.
Some minor heat disorders:
- Heat rash or ‘prickly heat’
- Swelling in your hands, feet or legs
- Muscle cramp
Some major heat disorders:
- Heat exhaustion
- ‘Hyponatremia’ which when you get low sodium levels in the blood due to overexertion or too much exercise in a hot climate
If serious heat disorders like these are left untreated then things could turn nasty. Don’t let the heat get you down on your holiday by making sure you’re prepared for it with our handy guide on Heat and Humidity. We’ve come up with a list of ways to reduce your chances of getting ill in the hot weather on your next trip.
So, who’s at risk?
Anyone travelling to a much hotter or more humid climate is at risk of getting a heat disorder. Whenever you go somewhere with a different temperature than you’re used to, your skin and circulation systems will work overtime to keep your body temperature at a steady level. If your body gets overheated then it will try to cool itself through the dilation of your blood vessels. This dilation directs the blood away from the centre of your body and towards the skin, which is what causes you to sweat in hot weather! As this sweat on the skin’s surface evaporates, the body cools down.
Because the heat causes you to sweat, it’s likely that rapid dehydration will occur in hot, dry climates if you’re not regularly topping up your liquid levels with water and sodium. If you’re staying in a hot, humid climate, then this humidity can mess with the rate that the sweat your body produces can evaporate. This makes it difficult for your body to maintain a steady body temperature and to keep you cool.
Although anyone can get a heat disorder, there are some people who are more at risk than others. For example:
- The elderly
- Young babies and children
- Those who already have a pre-existing medical condition
- Athletes, walkers, hikers, backpackers, or anyone else undertaking any strenuous physical activity
If you or anyone you’re travelling with fits one of these categories, then you should stay on extra alert and make sure to follow our guidelines on avoiding heat disorders in hot or humid climates.
What can I do to avoid getting a heat disorder?
In general, if you’re sensitive to the heat, then you should be drinking lots of fluids and sticking close to shady areas as much as possible. To help you out, we’ve come up with five top tips to help you reduce your risk of getting a heat disorder while you’re staying somewhere super-hot:
- Water is your best friend! Remember to keep hydrated especially when it’s hot out. A good way to check your hydration levels is by checking the colour of your urine: if it’s dark, then you’re not drinking enough!
- Wear loose, airy and light-coloured clothes to keep cool.
- Try to limit any physical exertion or exercise until you’ve become better acclimatised to the hot weather. Your body temperature should have adapted to the higher
- Buy a hand-held fan! These are fantastic little gadgets to take and you’ll be able to find them in most pharmacies.
- Do as the locals do: people in hot countries take a siesta in the middle of the day for good reason! Try to avoid the sun during its hottest points which are usually between 11am and 3pm.
These tips should keep you covered for most things. However, there are some more specific methods you should follow to reduce the risk of different types of heat disorder.
Fainting happens when there is a temporary drop in the levels of blood flow to the brain. When it’s really hot, you can faint if you aren’t acclimatised yet to your surroundings. This is caused as blood vessels dilate to increase circulation and radiate heat from the skin in order to cool down. As this happens, your blood sugar lowers and the blood supply to the brain gets reduced. Some things to know about fainting:
In most if not all cases, consciousness should return very quickly when you lie down flat upon the floor. Even if you just feel a little faint, lying down very still on the ground for a few minutes should be enough for the spell to pass.
Plenty of water and lots of rest in a cool room is usually enough for anyone who’s fainted due to hot weather.
‘Oedema’ (swelling of the feet and hands)
It’s very common for a little swelling of the feet and hands when we’re first exposed to any really hot climate for the first time. It’s most likely to happen to female travellers, but it shouldn’t be a source of too much concern for anyone if it does happen. Swelling happens when in hot weather the blood supply to the skin increases and radiates even more heat. This makes the fluid from the blood vessels spread out into the skin tissue which causes a mild swelling. In most cases, there’s nothing much you can do to stop this from happening and it should calm down on its own after a while. If it lasts for a long time, or becomes painful in any way, then you should seek urgent medical advice.
If you’re dedicated enough to be working out or exercising in the midday sun, then it’s possible that you could get heat-related cramps, which are usually in the calf, thigh or abdomen muscles. As with all cramps, the best thing is rest, drink plenty of water and do some gentle stretching.
Heat exhaustion can be really horrible. If you’ve got it, you’re likely to be feeling tired, dizzy, faint, and could also have a bad headache. Heat exhaustion is a version of extreme tiredness due to a decrease in blood pressure. It happens when you’re dehydrated or in the heat for a long period of time. Treatment for heat exhaustion is usually intensive rehydration with water and other fluids, but it can be easily avoided by following these tips:
- Water is necessary in the heat. Make sure to always keep a bottle of water with you when you’re out in a hot country and don’t get caught without one.
- Sometimes you’ll need to replace the salt-levels in your body too, so water might not be enough. Ask our specialists about rehydration sachets to take just in case.
- If you’re stuck out in the heat without any pre-made formula, then you can make an easy (and delicious!) rehydration solution using just soda water, salt and lime juice.
- Water’s great not just for drinking: bring a spray water bottle for your face and body to take while you’re out walking, or have a sponge down whenever you can!
This is a more serious condition than heat exhaustion, and happens when your body temperature is too high for too long and you’ve not been able to follow the tips we’ve just given.
With heatstroke, your body stops being able to cool itself down using the normal mechanisms and begins to overheat. If you’ve got heatstroke you’re likely to be feeling thirsty, nauseous and confused, have rapid shallow breathing, dry skin and cramps.
This is treated as a medical emergency and, if you or one of your fellow travellers have it, you’ll need urgent medical attention. Usually, the treatment will be rehydration using intravenous fluids and special ice packs to help the body cool down. Make sure to call an ambulance as soon as possible if you think someone has heatstroke, and help them in the meantime by keeping them in a cool airy room, giving them water to drink (if they’re awake) and by sponging their skin with cool water.
‘Hyponatremia’ (low sodium levels in the blood)
This is another more serious heat disorder and usually happens if someone’s been exercising or doing anything really strenuous in the hot weather. You lose sodium from your blood when you’re sweating a lot and replacing it with just plain water.
The symptoms of hyponatremia can be pretty vague but generally include confusion, tiredness, weak muscles, headaches and nausea. If it’s really severe, symptoms can include extreme confusion or disorientation, agitation, seizures, or even coma. Watch out for the person starting to act strangely, as this usually affects a person’s mental state first, and find out if they’ve had large amounts of plain water very recently. Again, if the symptoms of this are extreme, then this is a medical emergency and you should seek urgent medical attention as soon as possible.
Food and Waterborne Diseases
However adventurous you are at sampling that delicious local cuisine, you’ll always need to pay close attention to everything you eat or drink while you’re away, especially in areas of poor sanitation.
By all means, don’t let us put you off your dinner! All we’re asking is that you try to be aware of all the potential risks of contaminated food before you tuck in. You could be exposing yourself to some pretty scary things, even by something as safe-looking as a couple of ice-cubes in your mid-afternoon cocktail…
Travellers’ diarrhoea, E. coli, Shigella, Salmonella, Giardia, Entamoeba hystolytica, Campylobacter Cryptosporidia, Cyclospora and even Cholera could all be lurking in your elevenses if you’re not careful!
Because of this, we’ve come up with a handy list of Dos and Don’ts for safe food and liquid consumption while you’re on holiday. We advise that while you’re staying in areas where it is tricky to ensure good levels of cleanliness, you should always follow these precautions to make sure that you stay guarded against common and some less than common infections, too.
Dos and Don'ts
- Do keep washing those hands! Personal hygiene is SO important, especially when you’re eating or drinking. Always remember to wash your hands before handling food, before mealtimes, and after you use the loo. It’s a good idea to bring hand wipes or sanitising gel in your bag just in case you can’t reach a decent place to wash your hands while you’re on the move.
- Don’t drink or wash any fresh fruit or veg in water that you’re not sure about. All the water you drink or use to prepare food, should be purified or treated beforehand.
- Don’t even use ice cubes or clean your teeth in unsafe water! Bottled water is best, but if you don’t have access to this then boiling it, using a filter or a chemical purifier are the next best thing.
- Do drink bottled or sealed drinks! It is fine to enjoy a can of beer or share a bottle of wine at mealtimes, but don’t trust anything without a seal or if the seal’s been visibly broken.
- All hot teas, coffees or drinks made with boiled water will be safe to drink.
- Do boil all milk or cream that you have unless you’re certain it has been pasteurised.
- Do try to buy your dairy products from the bigger, more established shops where you can be certain it’s of good quality and has been pasteurised.
- Don’t use any dirty cups, plates or cooking utensils at mealtimes! Make sure they’re all clean, and if you’re not sure about them then use alcohol wipes to be extra safe.
- Do sample the local street food: it’s delicious! Funnily enough, most of the time street food will be amongst the safest you’ll find - but make sure you choose food that’s just been cooked, looks fresh, and is served piping hot when you get it.
- Don’t buy meat unless you’re sure it’s been freshly prepared. If you’re eating meat then it should be properly cooked through and you must eat it hot wherever you can!
- Don’t risk those leftovers! As tempting as last night’s curry might look, it’s not safe to risk eating pre-cooked food that’s been left out in the air for too long.
- Do peel any fresh fruit you eat as it is possible that the skins will have been contaminated by nearby flies or bugs.
- Do eat all your veg after it has been well-cooked! There’s no need to miss out on your 5-a-day but, sadly, fresh vegetables or salad bits are easily contaminated in the soil or by flies, and they can also be difficult to clean.
- Don’t play Russian roulette with fish or shellfish on holiday! These can be tricky foods at the best of times even if cooked properly, so talk to some locals about what’s safe to eat and if doesn’t seem OK, don’t eat it!
Well there you have it: our top list of Dos and Don'ts for safe eating and drinking while you’re travelling abroad. Try to stick to these as closely as possible, and remember: if in doubt, steer clear!
Travel Health for Children - What You Need to Know
- Insect bites
- Travel sickness in children
- Top Tips For Travelling With Young Children
Your holidays should be the happiest time of the year. However, when you travel with children, things can’t always go according to plan. Luckily, many common health problems can be avoided. Learn all you need to know to keep your child healthy and happy abroad, so nothing will spoil the fun for you and your family.
Although often harmless, insect stings and bites can be annoying on holiday.
Most of the time, when you get bitten, the culprit will be the common mosquito. In some parts of the world, mosquitoes carry dangerous diseases such as malaria or dengue fever. Make sure you know whether you and your children need malaria tablets or vaccinations before you travel. Mosquitoes occur in many parts of the world and they tend to be particularly bothersome if you are staying near a river or the sea.
Here’s what you can do to keep the little blighters at bay
- Take an insect repellent - there are sprays and plug-ins available to use on your body and in your accommodation
- Take an over the counter hydrocortisone cream to use if you get bitten
- Take antihistamine cream or tablets with you to relieve itching and swelling
- Wear long sleeved shirts and long trousers
- Stay in accommodation with nets attached to the windows
If you are going to a destination where mosquitoes are very common, it might also be a good idea to take bed nets.
Make sure your beach holiday remains memorable for the right reasons and protect your family against the sun. The sun may be far more aggressive at your holiday destination, so you need to be more careful than you might be at home. As a general rule of thumb, the sun gets more aggressive the nearer you are to the equator or the higher up you get.
No doubt you’re already used to protecting your children from the English sun, and the same rules go on holiday. Follow these simple tips and stay safe:
- Take an insect repellent - there are sprays and plug-ins available to use on your body and in your accommodation
- Take sun hats and shades for you and your children
- Avoid spending long periods of time in direct sunlight, especially around midday
- If you travel by car, take screens for the windows
The most important step in protecting you and your family from sunburn is to use sunscreen.
Make sure you
- Choose a waterproof brand
- Use a children’s sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 50+ for your kids
- Re-apply the cream regularly, especially after swimming
Travelling is a great experience for your children and they will most likely have a fantastic time. However, the change in their environment, diet and routine often causes digestive problems such as diarrhoea.
If your child develops diarrhoea:
- Encourage him or her to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
- Continue with their normal diet
- Avoid fruit juices, smoothies and soft drinks
- Visit a doctor if your child is under 6 months or if they don’t get better
You can take oral rehydration sachets from the chemist’s with you - they contain essential salts and sugar to help your child (or you) recover quickly. Always read the label to check that the supplement is suitable for children.
Travel sickness in children
If your child suffers from travel sickness, you have probably already worked out your own way of dealing with the little “emergencies” during your trip. Travel sickness is quite common in children over the age of two and it usually gets better as the children grow older. It happens - to children and adults - when a visual stimulus contradicts your sense of movement. In other words: Your body can tell that it is moving, but your eyes may be focussed on a fixed point which is not. As your brain tries to resolve this conflict, you may feel or be sick.
What you can do
- Allow plenty of time when you travel - just in case
- Begin your journey at night time, so your child can sleep through most of it
- Stay calm if you can and try not to get stressed - this will help you and your child
Things to take with you
- Plenty of wipes and towels
- A change of clothing
- Water to keep your child hydrated after they have been sick
- Plastic bags (to keep dirty clothing in)
- Anti-sickness medication for children (you can buy this over the counter)
Holidays can be a terrible time for your children to fall ill - sometimes this is unavoidable, but the best you can do is be prepared.
If your child does get ill, you will be glad if you have
- A thermometer
- A fever and pain killer medication for children, such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen
Keeping a good hygiene routine during your holidays will help reduce the risk of infection. Encourage your child to wash hands regularly, especially before meals. It helps if you have antibacterial wipes at hand, for situations where you can’t wash your hands.
Finally, make sure you all get plenty of rest and sleep to keep you fit and healthy during your break.
Top Tips For Travelling With Young Children
- Where you’re going: city breaks are great when you’re on your own or with friends, but why not think about going somewhere where the little ones can run around and let off some steam?
- How you’re getting there: kids will soon get bored on long drives or flights so think about some things to bring to keep them occupied, and don’t forget those travel sickness pills and wristbands!
- Childcare: are you going somewhere where you’ll have access to a babysitter or that has a kids club so that you can get away for an evening or two?
- What you’ll be doing while you’re out there: it’s a good idea to have a long list of family-friendly activities to do just in case they get tired of the pool on the second day!
- Mealtimes: fussy eaters? Think about what’s available where you’re going. Will you be eating out lots or are you staying somewhere that’s self-catered?
- What you can do! Remember, it’s not just their holiday – try to look out for some grown up entertainment for the holiday like nice restaurants, cinema trips or bars close by so that you don’t miss out on the fun!
- Rainy day kits: hopefully you won’t need these, but this is also a great back-up for long trips to keep the little ones entertained. Pack some goodie bags with crayons, stickers, colouring books and some treats so that they don’t get restless. There are all sorts of interactive apps that you can download now onto your phone or tablet to use without internet access. Why not download some games and a few films for a long flight?
- Are they crawling yet? It’s hard to totally safe-proof your holiday house or hotel, but you can get inventive! Plasters make fantastic plug-socket covers for any inquisitive toddlers, and hair bobbles are great for keeping door handles to cupboards shut if you’ve got medicines or precious things to keep safe and the doors don’t lock!
- Is your little one still feeding? Take advice from our experts on travelling while breastfeeding and bottle feeding for more info on how to be safe and comfortable while you feed away from home.
If you are travelling to a country where travel vaccinations are recommended, make sure you make an appointment for a travel health consultation at least eight weeks before you travel.
ABC of Travel Vaccination:
Book an appointmentSix to eight weeks before you travel, giving you time to start any courses of vaccinations
Have a free personalised adviceOur specially-trained pharmacist will advise you on any vaccinations
Get vaccinations you may needYou'll also be given additional personalised advice to help you stay healthy on your trip
*Subject to eligibility criteria, plus specially-trained pharmacist and stock availability.
Available vaccinations at our Pharmacy
Our service offers the following vaccinations:
- Hepatitis A?
- Hepatitis B
- Japanese encephalitis
- Meningitis ACWY
- Tick-borne encephalitis
- Yellow fever?
- Measles, Mumps, and Rubella
We also recommend making sure that your childhood immunisations are up to date to protect you against diseases like:
Travellers not sure of their vaccination history should check with their GP.
Benefits of the service
- local: We are a local Pharmacy
- Convenient: Book an appointment time to suit you
For your appointment
Please Call 020 8852 6292 and talk to our pharmacist
You will need:
- Details about your trip (like destination, date and planned activities)
- Details of any medical condition or medication you're taking
- History of previous vaccinations if known