Health considerations for travelling abroad
01 Apr 2022
If you are planning to travel abroad from the UK, you may be at risk of becoming exposed to a wide range of illnesses and health risks, in addition to COVID-19.
Throughout the pandemic, outbreaks of infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever have been increasing and routine vaccination campaigns have been disrupted. This means people at your planned destination may not be protected against infectious diseases including measles and polio.
- make sure you and your family are up-to-date with the UK vaccination schedule and get boosters if required before you travel.
Advice for travellers
Before booking any travel, you should review the fitfortravel country page relevant to your destination(s) to find:
- up to date travel health recommendations for that country
- advice on health risks you need to be aware of at your destination
- if you may need to consider receiving any vaccinations, boosters or purchasing antimalarial tablets before you travel
Try to see a travel health professional at least 6 to 8 weeks in advance of your trip whenever possible to allow plenty of time for advice, vaccinations and boosters to be given.
- Even if you are travelling at short notice, you should still try and see a travel health professional as they may still be able to offer you useful advice.
After you return home, always seek medical advice if you develop a high temperature and you have recently travelled abroad, telling them about your recent travel history.
Below is a reminder of some of the different health risks you may need to be aware of before travelling abroad:
Many countries continue to have border restrictions and entry requirements in place for international travellers in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.
- For more information on travelling during the COVID-19 pandemic, see COVID-19: Health Considerations for Travel.
- Malaria can quickly become serious if it is not diagnosed and treated quickly.
- Protecting yourself against mosquito bites and taking anti-malarial medications, if recommended for the country you are visiting, can help to reduce your risk of catching malaria.
- Make sure you know what the symptoms of malaria are, so you can seek help quickly if they occur.
- Always remember to seek medical advice quickly on your return to the UK if you become unwell, and mention that you have been in a country where malaria is present.
Mosquito and other insect bites
Mosquitoes can transmit many other diseases including yellow fever, dengue fever and zika virus infection.
Fleas, bugs, ticks and flies carry a wide variety of diseases which they can transmit to humans if they bite you.
- You should always try to protect yourself against mosquito bites and other insect bites when travelling to a country where these diseases exist.
Food and water precautions
Some illnesses are transmitted to humans from eating or drinking food and water which has been contaminated by germs (such as viruses or bacteria) or harmful chemicals.
- You should always take safe food and water precautions and practice effective hand hygiene when you travel.
Common cold, chest infections, flu (influenza) and COVID-19 are some of the many diseases which are transmitted when you breathe in infected droplets in the air released by people with the infection, or by touching surfaces which have been contaminated with these infected droplets and you then touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- You can reduce your risk of catching airborne infections by regularly washing your hands and practicing respiratory hygiene measures whilst travelling.
Diseases from blood and body fluids
You may become infected with blood borne virus infections (including HIV) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) if you come into close contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person without taking safe precautions.
- Being up to date with vaccinations such as hepatitis B, being aware of how to avoid blood borne viruses and practicing safe sex during travel will help to reduce your risk.
Risks from the environment
- Always make sure you carefully research the risks at your destination, get the relevant vaccinations and take out a comprehensive travel insurance to cover you whilst you are abroad.