Tips and Tricks for Parents to Travel Safely this Summer

Setting off for an overseas adventure? Great! But don’t put your family’s health at risk.

Summer is nearly here. And for lots of people that means it’s time for a family vacation abroad. But increasingly Australian parents risk ruining their family holiday by skipping vaccinations.

In fact, almost eighty per cent of Australian parents travelling overseas to destinations such as Asia and India[1] are potentially exposing themselves to travel diseases such as typhoid, Japanese encephalitis and hepatitis A by not getting the required immunisations prior to travel. 

New research by Sanofi Pasteur identified that Asia and India are the most popular destinations for Australian travellers, with 2 in 3 having travelled there in the last five years.[2] Worryingly, two thirds of Australian parents thought that simply being aware of what was safe and what wasn’t when travelling overseas was enough to protect them and their family from getting sick.[3]

Deborah Mills, Travel Doctor and Spokesperson for Travel Medicine Alliance, an Australia wide network of doctors who specialise in Travel Health said: “Many parents understandably put their children’s health before their own, but what most people don’t realise is that not protecting yourself from travel diseases can mean completely ruining the family holiday by ending up being severely ill.”

“Parents need to consider the repercussions of, not only themselves getting sick but the whole family falling ill.  It can mean being in hospital for several days, cancelling planned family activities, spending a fortune on medical costs and no longer spending quality time together.”

The survey revealed that one in two Australian parents claimed to have engaged in everyday activities that place them at risk of contracting disease, such brushing their teeth in tap water or eating street food[4], and one in five drank tap water while travelling to high risk of disease destinations.[5]

Fortunately, protecting you and your family from travel diseases can be straight forward. It’s vital that parents are seeking medical advice four to six weeks prior to your departure. Also, to help you stay healthy on your next family holiday you can follow these simple tips:

Vaccines and  boosters
You may be going to places where specific vaccines are recommended or required. Getting up-to-date advice is key. Remember that vaccines do not necessarily cover you for life. Check with your travel doctor to see whether you are due for a booster shot and make sure you are protected.

Hand washing
While overseas up the ante on your hand washing. Bacteria and viruses can be transferred from hand to mouth. Carry an alcohol based hand sanitiser with you on your travels so you won’t be caught out.

Food and drink
Don’t drink local water, only use bottled or boiled water to drink and brush your teeth and always check the seal on the bottles. Don’t put ice in drinks — it’s an easy one to forget but freezing preserves germs, rather than kills them.  Eat only well-cooked food, avoid uncooked food, including salads and fruit that you cannot peel.

Medical Kit
Travelling with a traveler’s medical kit is helpful, the best contain prescription items for treating common problems quickly and easily. These are available from travel clinics but you can make up a small medical kit, including items such as headache tablets, antacids, antiseptic lotion, cotton wool, band aids, latex gloves, safety pins, SPF 30+ sunscreen and an appropriate insect repellent.

For more information to help with your travel health choices visit www.travellers‐

[1] Lonergan Research, Travel Vaccine Report, September 2012, p. 64

[2] Lonergan Research, Travel Vaccine Report, September 2012, p. 6

[3] Lonergan Research, Travel Vaccine Report, September 2012, p. 104

[4] Lonergan Research, Travel Vaccine Report, September 2012, p. 72

[5] Lonergan Research, Travel Vaccine Report, September 2012, p. 72

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