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Travel Health on your Gap Year

When you’re packing for a Gap Year, don’t forget the mosquito spray. Jabs and aspirin are pretty dull, but not as bad as getting laid up with malaria for half your year. Take a moment to read our Travel Health guide and get health-savvy before you go.


Six weeks before you leave

1. VISIT YOUR GP
Because health hazards around the world emerge on a daily basis, get up-to-date information from your GP. You can also find information about current threats and diseases on the Foreign Office website. Your GP will be able to check the vaccinations necessary for your itinerary, tell you about water and food, insects and sun exposure, and advise on any conditions that you have.


2. GET YOUR JABS
First you’ll have to ensure that your regular vaccinations are up-to-date: tetanus, polio and meningitis. Next, use this NHS site to see which jabs you’ll need for the country you’re visiting. Book an appointment at your local surgery for these – you’ll have to pay, but this isn’t an area to make budget cuts. Some countries require certification of vaccination; others don’t. But for the sake of personal records, it’s a good idea to keep your vaccination record with your passport. Vaccinations you might need include:

  • Diptheria
  • Encephalitis (Japanese)
  • Encephalitis (tick-borne)
  • Hepititis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Meningococcal A and C
  • Rabies
  • Typhoid
  • Yellow Fever

3. CHECK IF YOU NEED MALARIA TABLETS
Because Malaria is a really serious disease, and sometimes fatal. You’ll need to check with an updated source to find out if tablets are necessary in your destination – the epidemic fluctuates around the world, and if you’re travelling across India, for example, you may need to take tablets for part of your journey. You’ll need to start taking malaria tablets (the type depends on the region you’re visiting) before arriving in your destination.


4. BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE
Don’t leave without it! If you’re travelling in Europe the EHIC will be great for health purposes (but not for loss of luggage, theft, and so on). Make sure that your insurance covers you for any activities you plan to do, like surfing, mountain-climbing, kayaking etc. Make copies of your insurance documents and leave one copy at home with your family.
iGapYear provide more information about what to look for in your travel insurance policy and links to some insurance companies offering well priced insurance.


Two weeks before you leave

Put together a comprehensive health kit, with all the usual first aid supplies plus extra travel items. Be on the safe side, with plenty of everything you might need and some of the things you don’t – your fellow travellers might need help. Your kit might include:

  • Malaria tablets
  • A mosquito net
  • Long-sleeved clothing and trousers
  • Sunblock of different factors
  • Insect repellent
  • Emergency malaria treatment
  • Water purifying tablets
  • Aspirin and flights socks
  • Sterilised needles
  • Plasters, antiseptic and antibacterial wipes
  • Cotton bandage
  • Diarrhoea treatment and rehydration salts
  • Tablets for travel sickness, antacid, antifungal and antihistamine if appropriate
  • Insect bite cream
  • Antihistamine, painkiller and anti-inflammatory tablets
  • Scissors, tweezers, tape and gauze
  • Condoms