Health and Community Services Department
INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL CLINIC
Advice for Package Tourists
Those going on short package holidays will normally be staying in accommodation that is chosen and 'quality checked' by the tour operators. This does not protect the traveler from unexpected health problems particularly when venturing away from the hotel.
Sunburn is preventable. Limited your exposure and cover up especially around noon. Use sunscreens liberally and as directed.
Unaccustomed consumption of alcohol is very common on package holidays and this can lead to illness from intoxication, accidents and the taking of risks with health that would not be entertained at home.
Unfamiliar surroundings and alcohol consumption often result in accidents. Beware of sea currents and take especial care crossing roads. Sharp objects and discarded glass on beaches can injure your feet.
Stomach upsets and diarrhea
These are very common. Contaminated food and water is a major cause of illness and care is especially important when eating out in countries where local hygiene is poor. Unaccustomed spices or oil in food as well as alcohol can also lead to stomach upsets. You should consider taking an antidiarrheal preparation.
Unhygienic sex and failure to use a condom with new partners, particularly with professional sex workers, puts you at risk of serious infections including HIV.
This can be very real even for short-term visitors perhaps made worse by family problems at home, illness or unaccustomed alcohol consumption. Problems may include adjusting to a different climate and language, unfamiliar social amenities, coming to terms with poverty, begging, and movement restrictions for safety or political reasons. It is usually helpful to be patient rather than critical when difficulties arise.
Vaccinations take time so consult your doctor or nurse as soon as possible, ideally at least four weeks before traveling. Late bookings can leave insufficient time for vaccinations to become fully effective.
In Britain it is advised that 10 yearly boosters of tetanus and diphtheria vaccines are not normally required in adult life so long as the full British schedule, including the teenage boosters, have been received. Those likely to sustain skin injuries (e.g. on beaches) or mixing closely with the local population in countries where these diseases are still common should continue to receive boosters every 10 years.
Meningococcal type A vaccine is mainly a risk for those visiting risk areas in sub-Saharan Africa who will be mixing closely with the local population. It is not normally taken by short term (up to 2 weeks) package tourists staying in good accommodation with other tourists.
Hepatitis A and typhoid vaccines are important for those who are not able to be careful about their food and water hygiene in risk areas. Tour operators usually carefully choose their hotels but accidents happen and eating out may be risky in poorer countries.
Influenza vaccine can be considered for those who might get a more severe illness such as those with existing chest problems. Remember the 'flu' season in the southern hemisphere is from April to November.
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is necessary for crossing borders in many parts of Africa and South America.
Your accommodation may well provide good mosquito protection, if not you must consider taking a good mosquito net. Sensible clothing to protect the skin from bites and careful use of mosquito repellents is also important. If your advisor recommends anti-malaria tablets make sure you take then correctly.