Health and hygiene dos and don'ts for safer travel

Monday, 16 March 2020 08:00 AM

Whether you're travelling to a holiday destination or commuting to work, school or a nearby mall, exposure to shared public spaces or unfamiliar environments, leave us more vulnerable to health and safety hazards. Luckily, there are precautionary measures one can take to mitigate the more common health risks affecting today’s traveller - think bacterial infections (E. coli) that cause runny tummies, or contagious colds, flu (Influenza) and more recently the Coronavirus (COVID19). To keep these infectious illnesses at bay, here are some of our health and hygiene dos and don’ts for safer travel. 

DO: Ensure you’re prepared for travel

Ensure you are healthy well before your trip. This is key to planning a successful travel itinerary. Identifying high-risk travel destinations and locations ahead of time will help you decide when to travel, where to travel and what to prepare to avoid contracting an infectious illness. If you’ve already booked a trip, consult a doctor beforehand to rule out any underlying conditions that could put you at risk.

If you’re planning to travel for an extended period, consult with your medical practitioner about any travel vaccinations and medication that can help protect you from health complications. And if you’re travelling to remote areas, ensure that you carry a first aid travel kit with basic medication to alleviate common symptoms like headaches, fevers and coughs. In the event of emergencies, travel insurances can be a saving grace when you’re forced to cancel a trip or change travel dates.

DO: Use the appropriate coughing and sneezing etiquette

Covering a sneeze or a cough, significantly reduces the spread of infectious illnesses and diseases. One cough can expel 20 000 flu viral particles into the air, infecting several people at a time. Imagine how fast germs could spread if many more people openly coughed and sneezed within a confined space! If the urge to cough or sneeze gets the better of you, keep a safe distance from the people around you and use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose. If you don’t have a tissue on hand, cough or sneeze into your elbow or upper sleeve.

DO: Practice good hygiene

Good hygiene is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself and others from germs that cause infectious diseases. When coming into close contact with different people, a host of harmful germs can be passed on from one individual to another. To effectively remove these microbes, wash your hands frequently with soap and running water for 20 seconds. Do this after using the toilet, changing a nappy, before eating and handling food, after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing, after treating a raw or cut wound or attending to the ill. If you have no access to running water, make use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers and avoid touching your eyes, nose and face without washing your hands.

DO: Stick to a healthy routine when travelling

Getting out of your comfort zone is part and parcel of travelling. This may come with time zone adjustments and a change in routine and lifestyle - all of which can compromise the immune system. To maintain a robust immune system that will stave off illnesses and infections, stick to your normal health routine as far as possible. Opt for a well-balanced diet, adequate sleep, some exercise and your body will thank you for it!

DON’T: Travel if you’re feeling sick

A weakened immune system reduces the body’s ability to fight severe strains of infectious diseases and puts one at greater risk of contracting or spreading ailments. If you’re coming down with a fever, a contagious cough (or sneeze) or a respiratory tract infection, rather postpone your trip for another time, when you’re feeling at your utmost best (it really is worth the wait). If you’re pregnant, elderly or suffer from chronic health conditions, speak to your doctor to ensure it is safe to travel.

DON’T: Discount the power of anti-bacterial wipes on common surfaces

Germs live on soft and hard surfaces for hours, even days! This makes common surface areas like tables, seats, fingerprint scanners, doorknobs, phones, bedding and restrooms ideal breeding grounds for harmful bacteria. Hotels and airlines adhere to rigorous sanitation and cleaning procedures to reduce the spread of germs. But as an extra precaution, use anti-bacterial wipes to disinfect high-touch surfaces.

DON’T: Neglect safe eating and drinking habits

There’s no better way to immerse yourself in local culture than with food and drink. But contaminated food can have adverse health effects. To avoid making your trip memorable for all the wrong reasons or worst yet, having to cut it short if serious health complications arise, start by researching your destination ahead of time. That way, you'll be able to anticipate concerns around food safety and water supply that could lead to food poisoning and other infectious illnesses. When in doubt or travelling to remote locations, avoid raw foods, stick to well-cooked meals, dry & packaged items, hot drinks and bottled water. If you start to experience a runny tummy, cramps, fever and abdominal pain during your travels, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of clean fluids and seek medical attention.

And DON’T panic

Epidemic outbreaks like the coronavirus, can send travellers into a state of panic, forcing them to cancel flights or change their travel plans. Staying informed with the right information will help you make the best travel decisions and take the necessary health precautions to keep safe. If you are exposed to an outbreak or fall ill as a consequence, comply with guidelines set out by the World Health Organization, international travel bodies and national and local public health authorities.

At kulula.com, the safety and wellbeing of our passengers is a top priority. Find out what measures we’ve put in place to heighten the focus on personal hygiene and read the latest FAQs related to travelling with us here.

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