How I Stay Healthy On Holiday
As you might have heard me bragging about, I went away recently to Gran Canaria with some friends and had a few mighty fine adventures. What I didn’t share with you was the fact that I had a tremendous cold before I left that meant I had 2 coldsores front and centre on my face with which to go on holiday. As you can guess, I didn’t really feel at my best and spent the days leading up to the holiday applying Aciclovir and ice to my top lip to get the swelling down. But, if you’ve ever had them, you’ll know coldsores can take at least a week to clear up, so I spent most of my holiday still treating the little buggers, hoping they didn’t show up in any photos.
Because of all this sexiness, I was hyper aware of my well-being the entire time I was away. And I’m not just talking about putting Zovirax on constantly. I was aware of how much sun I was getting, how much water I was drinking, and what food I ate. I always had my treatments with me and I made sure not to poke or prod my face, which is something of a personal victory as I never seem to stop touching my own face and neck.
The cold and resulting illness paranoia made me realise that even if you’re worried about it you’re still not often prepared for any sort of illness, mild or serious, while abroad. That’s what’s inspired this post, so buckle up, we’re talking about being responsible on holiday (please don’t leave, it’ll be good, I promise).
Now I’m very pale, and this fact was very much hammered home after the first day when I got sunburn on my back even though I was using a factor 30 and didn’t lie in the sun for that long. Contrast that with other people I was with using factor 15 tanning oil, and you see why I’m making sun protection my first point. I did bring factor 50 but just thought I’d be fine going in with a 30, and I might have been if I had been a bit more aware of spending time in the shade or wearing a cover-up. Although, after being smothered in factor 50 when I went to Australia and still being pink for the first few weeks, I do question if anything other than a full body suit would protect me.
Advice: Start with a high factor and periods in the shade, building up to more sun exposure and maybe a lower factor after that. We’re all very aware of skin cancer after the sun bed scare of the 2000s, so as much as you want to bake in the sun, be cautious or get weird looking sun burn and have to spend the next few days in the shade anyway.
I was hyper-aware of keeping hydrated while I was away thanks to my gorgeous face herpes (it’s what it’s called, get over it), so drinking water was a higher priority than usual. Throw in a few nights out and suddenly I was suddenly desperate to keep litres of water about my person at all times.
I’m not someone who stands by the whole 2 litres of water a day thing, but I do try and keep topped up. My main concern in hotter countries is when I’m active so I neglect when I’m lazing around –don’t be like me, drink water.
Advice: If you struggle to drink water, drink soft drinks or take squash to sweeten it. And if you tend to forget about having a drink, set some alarms on your phone to remind you – just make sure you’re not interrupting your siesta. And while someone may try to convince you that drinking beer is equivalent to drinking water, it is not. Don’t be so silly. You are supposed to be an adult, why do I need to tell you this?
If you do get dehydrated, stay out of the sun and have a rehydration sachet. These are small, so easy to pack, and are really cheap. These are brilliant if you get a stomach bug or similar and have been ill for more than a day. It’s essential you try to rehydrate and replace the salts and vitamins you’ve lost.
We were half-board at the hotel, but they did actually do all-inclusive as well, which made me wary of the buffet because of all the stories of holiday sickness claims lately. To clarify, I didn’t get ill from the food and neither did anyone I was with, but I was very cautious.
For one meal, while we were out, I actually had something with seafood in – I was paranoid the entire rest of the day. But the only reason I’d had it was because seafood was a specialty and we were next to the sea. It was very unlikely anything was wrong with it, and I was right, but as a rule avoid seafood – especially at buffets.
Advice: If you pick up some hot food and when you start eating discover it’s actually lukewarm or cold, don’t carry on eating. This happened to me at the buffet – one of the staff was topping up some kind of meat pie and gave me a slice. Assuming it was fresh from the kitchen I was surprised it was barely warm when I tucked in. I had one bite and left it. Not worth the risk.
High danger foods to look out for are dairy, seafood, cold meats and salad. With seafood, if it’s off or undercooked you can get ill easily, with the others it’s a matter of refrigeration or how they’ve been washed and prepared. These foods don’t have cooking to kill germs which is why they’re an issue.
Your Legal Friend recently did some really useful travel health guides that focus on things to pack just in case. Rehydration sachets and diarrhoea tablets are mentioned, but I’d also recommend indigestion relief (something like Rennie) to help settle your stomach. There’s also some good pointers on what to look out for in your hotel, like the cleanliness of the pool.
What are your packing essentials? Do you over prepare? Or do you approach it all very optimistically and not bother with health supplies?