Before you travel

Practical advice if you're travelling abroad, including vaccinations, DVT, travel insurance and sun safety.

From travel insurance to vaccinations, here's what to think about before you travel.

Start preparing for your trip, especially long trips, four to six weeks before you go.

Read the latest health and safety advice for the country you're travelling using:

Find out if you need travel vaccines and make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date.

If diseases such as malaria are a risk, you may need to start treatment before travelling.

Prepare a kit of travel health essentials, including sunscreen, painkillers and antiseptic. 

Consider taking condoms with you to avoid the risk of buying fake, and potentially unsafe, brands when you get there.

Sun protection

When choosing sunscreen, the bottle's label should have:

  • the letters "UVA" in a circle logo and at least four-star UVA protection
  • at least SPF15 sunscreen to protect against UVB

For more information, read the Sun safety Q&A.

Travel insurance

Whether you're off on a six-month trek to the Himalayas or a family holiday in Spain, it's vital to have the right travel insurance.

Make sure your policy covers your destination and the duration of your stay, as well as any specific activities you might do.

When travelling in Europe, make sure you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

The EHIC will entitle you to free or reduced-cost medical care. However, it won't cover you for everything that travel insurance can, such as emergency travel back to the UK.

Deep vein thrombosis 

If you think you may be at risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), seek advice from your GP.

On long-haul flights, get up from your seat to walk around and stretch your legs whenever you can. Drink regularly, but avoid alcohol, and wear loose, comfortable clothes. 

Jet lag

Jet lag is worse when you move from west to east because the body finds it harder to adapt to a shorter day than a longer one.

Travellers who take medication according to a strict timetable, such as insulin or oral contraceptives, should seek medical advice from a health professional before their journey.

Get tips on dealing with jet lag.

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