8 Tips for Staying Healthy While Traveling

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and travel: The situation around the world is changing dramatically. Various governments have changed their travel warnings to restrict travel during this time. To understand how this may impact cover under your policy, please go to our FAQs and select your country of residence.

For the latest travel warnings and alerts around the world, read about lockdowns and border restrictions.

Find out how to stay healthy, from water hygiene to sun safety and mosquito prevention, this is what you need to know about travel health.

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Vendors eating lunch at Warorot market, Chiang Mai Photo © Getty Images/Elena Aleksandrovna Ermakova

If you are traveling overseas soon and are worried about the coronavirus outbreak, stay up to date with local news and media, and always follow the advice of local authorities or your government.

Make yourself aware of the countries where coronavirus is rapidly spreading. Wash your hands consistently, maintain at least 3ft (1m) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing, and if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early (call before visiting your doctor).

Think about how miserable and vulnerable you feel when you're sick at home. Now multiply that misery by 10 when you're in a country where medical standards are questionable, you don't speak the language, and you're not sure what illness you've got.

We asked our travel experts for their top tips on how to stay healthy while traveling, no matter where you might be.

1. Make sure the local water is safe to drink

In most developing countries, tap water is not safe to drink. Drink sterilized water, and carry enough with you during the day to prevent dehydration. For extra caution, use purified water to brush your teeth. When you're at a bar or restaurant, always ask for drinks without ice.

Before you go, search on Google to see if the destination you're visiting has safe tap water. If you're unsure, ask locals when you arrive.

2. Check that your food is cooked through

Always be wary of dishes that include uncooked produce – salads, fresh fruit or vegetables. Fruits that can be peeled (bananas, mangoes) are generally safe to eat. Beware of frozen foods that may have been thawed and re-frozen, and of undercooked meat, fish or poultry.

When eating at food stalls, use your best judgment: if the food preparation area looks dodgy, don't even consider eating it. If you're unfortunate enough to get diarrhea, the basic rule is to stop eating and drink plenty of (bottled) water for a few days until it has passed.

3. Beware of mosquitoes

Mosquito bites are the cause of most tropical diseases, so dress to avoid getting bitten – wear long pants and long sleeves, especially at dusk. Use mosquito repellent on any exposed skin, and sleep under a mosquito net if one is provided (or travel with your own if you are camping or staying in remote areas).

Read a true travel insurance claims story of Dengue Fever in Bolivia: "I was in the middle of a trip to Bolivia when I got this massive headache and my body felt like it was freezing even though it was hot outside."

4. Be sun smart

Beware of strong (or even not so strong) sun, especially if you are not used to it – you can burn or get heatstroke before you know it. Carry a hat and sunscreen in your daypack and remember to reapply the lotion after you have been swimming. Also, drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration in hot climates.

5. Keep your hands clean

Wash your hands frequently, apply hand sanitizer after touching surfaces in public places, and carry a good supply of hand wipes when you are traveling. These three tips can effectively limit contamination.

Try to avoid touching your mouth or face while you're in public.

6. No glove, no love

If romance happens along the way, practice safe sex. HIV/AIDs is widespread in many countries. That means using a condom – and it's best to bring one from home, so you know it's safe.

7. Always have a first aid kit with you

Prepare a robust first-aid kit, and remember to take it with you when you leave the hostel with your daypack. Your first aid kit won't help if you're in a remote location and your bandages and anti-septic cream is safely packed in your luggage.

8. Seek medical attention if you think something is wrong

If you have to seek medical attention, make sure any needles or syringes are sterile and check any medications prescribed – examine any seals, read the contra-indications and beware of any likely side effects, particularly if you have any allergies.

While we offer tips for travel health and safety, you need to make decisions based on your own circumstances and the local laws of the countries you are visiting.

Check with your Government's travel advisory and the World Health Organization for the most up to date information.

Wondering how your travel insurance might be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak? Find answers to some of our common questions about COVID-19.

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