It’s hard to remember that you’re not at home when you’ve travelled abroad to see family or friends and are sat around the table enjoying a delicious home-cooked meal. Even if you’ve been somewhere countless times, things can always go wrong if you’re not fully prepared for the infections and diseases that exist in that particular country. Many people assume that if you’ve lived somewhere before or have had similar vaccines in the past, you’ll be covered for every trip away. Unfortunately, this is far from the case. Every year about 2,000 travellers come back to the UK with malaria that they’ve caught abroad because they weren’t up-to-date with their anti-malarial medication. Don’t get caught out while you visit your loved ones abroad this year.

Make sure you follow our handy guide for leaving the UK to see friends or family so that you can enjoy every second of your trip sickness-free, and don’t bring anything nasty back on your return.

Take a trip to your local Superdrug Travel Clinic

Visit one of our specialist travel healthcare nurses, or your local GP to talk about your travel plans. They’ll be able to advise you on the medicines or vaccines you’ll need to get before you go. Try to bring as much information as possible about your trip, such as: where you’re going, what you’re planning to do while you’re out there, and any pre-existing medical conditions that you have so that they can sort you out with what you need. Sometimes, if you’ve had to rush out suddenly to see friends or family, it’s easy for healthcare planning to skip your mind, so let us take care of your travel healthcare planning so that you can concentrate on the ones you love.

Things to remember

Here are a few of the pitfalls unlucky UK travellers encounter when travelling abroad to see family and friends. Make sure you’re clued up on all the risks and don’t set off without being fully prepared.

1. Just because you’ve lived there before doesn’t mean you’ll be immune to the diseases common in that country. Make sure you protect yourself from diseases like malaria every time you return to a region that’s at high risk, and always check that you’ve got enough anti-malarial medication to last you the full course.

2. Likewise, even if you think you’re immune to a particular disease, your children or partners certainly won’t be. Make sure everyone you’re travelling with is up-to-date with their immunisation requirements.

3. Immunity to diseases like malaria are lost rapidly once a person moves to a malaria-free zone, such as the UK. So, even if you’ve just been to a malaria region a few months ago, the medicine you’ve taken won’t necessarily cover you for this next trip. Make sure to go see your GP or Travel Clinic nurse for individual advice.

4. Sometimes, diseases like malaria will take a few days or weeks for symptoms to show up. Even if you’ve done your best to stay protected against disease while travelling to see friends or family, if you experience any symptoms like fever, severe headaches and breathing difficulty, then you should seek immediate medical attention.

5. Check the individual country’s entry requirements for information on the different visas, vaccines or travel insurance that you’ll need. Take a look at our country-specific vaccine scheduler here [link] and check out the UK Government’s foreign travel advice for different countries: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice. Make sure you check these or speak to someone at your local Superdrug Travel Clinic to get the more up-to-date travel advice.

6. Don’t skimp on your travel insurance! You never know when this will come in handy, and it’s never a good idea to play with your health, so make sure you’re on a good plan and are fully repatriated if needs be.

7. If you’re a dual-national citizen of both the UK and the country you’re travelling to, then speak to your insurer about this and remember that the British Government can only help you in extreme circumstances. Always pack the contact details and address of your local British embassy so that you know where to go if things go wrong.

8. Bringing back presents? Make sure you know what you can and can’t bring back into the UK in your luggage. It’s always illegal to bring any meat or dairy products back from countries outside the European Union, and there are also some rules on importing plants or animal products back so make sure you know this before you wrap them up! Read the  Government guide on bringing food, animals or plants back into the UK.

Malaria

Like we said, malaria is one of the most common diseases for UK travellers visiting friends or family abroad but it’s also one of the most dangerous. Make sure you’re fully stocked with enough anti-malarial tablets to keep you covered if you’re travelling to a zone of high risk, and always go to see a GP or someone at your local Superdrug Travel Clinic for advice on this first. Don’t leave this to chance because it’s very important to get the right antimalarial tablets (there a lots!) and to follow all the instructions given about them. Remember to take your tablets for up to four weeks after you come back into the UK (depending on the type) to keep you safe during the incubation period of the disease because this is when people tend to get caught out. Remember to stay alert for symptoms of infection for the weeks after you return and if you do start to feel ill after coming home then seek medical help as soon as possible. If this happens, make sure you mention your recent trip to your nurse or GP.

Bon Voyage!

If you’re still unsure about what to do before travelling abroad to see friends or family, then one of our friendly specialist nurses at a Superdrug Travel Clinic will be happy to help. Come to see us well in advance before you go to put your mind at ease.