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Before you travel - Healthy body

From travel insurance to vaccinations, here's what to think about before you travel.

Start preparing for your trip, especially long trips, 4 to 6 weeks before you go.

Read the latest health and safety advice for the country you're travelling using:

Find out if you need travel vaccines and make sure your vaccinations are up to date.

If diseases such as malaria are a risk, you may need to start treatment before travelling.

Prepare a kit of travel health essentials, including sunscreen, painkillers and antiseptic. 

Consider taking condoms with you to avoid the risk of buying fake, and potentially unsafe, brands when you get there.

Preparing to travel after Brexit

Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) may not be valid if there's a no-deal Brexit.

This will depend on arrangements with individual countries and might mean you need to pay in full for treatment.

Check the guide for the country you're travelling to

Your EHIC will be valid until Brexit happens or if your treatment started before exit day.

Your EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both when you travel abroad.

Sun protection

When choosing sunscreen, the bottle's label should have:

  • the letters "UVA" in a circular logo and at least 4-star UVA protection
  • at least SPF30 sunscreen to protect against UVB

Find out more about sun safety

Travel insurance

Whether you're off on a 6-month trek to the Himalayas or a family holiday in Spain, it's vital to have the right travel insurance.

Make sure your policy covers your destination and the duration of your stay, as well as any specific activities you might do.

When travelling in Europe, make sure you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

The EHIC covers medically necessary state-provided healthcare at a reduced cost or, in many cases, free of charge, until your planned return home.

But it will not cover you for everything that travel insurance can, such as emergency travel back to the UK.

Your EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both when you travel abroad.

Deep vein thrombosis 

If you think you may be at risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), seek advice from a GP.

On long-haul flights, get up from your seat to walk around and stretch your legs whenever you can.

Drink regularly, but avoid alcohol, and wear loose, comfortable clothes.

Jet lag

Jet lag is worse when you move from west to east because the body finds it harder to adapt to a shorter day than a longer one.

Travellers who take medicine according to a strict timetable, such as insulin or oral contraceptives, should seek medical advice from a healthcare professional before their journey.

Get tips on dealing with jet lag

Page last reviewed: 28 August 2019
Next review due: 28 August 2022