Suitcases are packed, passports are at the ready and the airport is in sight.
But have you forgotten to prepare your health before you jet off?
Almost 80% of Australian parents travelling overseas to destinations such as India, South Africa and South America, risk ruining their family holiday by skipping vaccinations exposing themselves to travel diseases.
Without the right preparation, family members could be exposed to travel diseases such as typhoid, yellow fever, encephalitis and hepatitis A – depending on where you travel.
According to Dr Deborah Mills of the Travel Medicine Alliance, too many parents think that simply being aware of what is safe and what isn’t when travelling overseas is enough to protect them and their family from getting sick.
“Parents generally 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.”
Not that this should stop you going on holiday!
Dr Mills said parents should prepare their families for overseas travel by making sure they get the right vaccinations and prophylactic treatments at least 4-6 weeks before travelling - which means making the appointments now if you're travelling over the December/January school holiday period.
“When travelling with children it’s vital that parents are seeking medical advice as to which vaccines they require to protect them from getting ill,” said Dr Mills
4 tips for families to travel safely this summer
1. Remember your 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 your childhood 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.
2. Up the ante on 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.
3. Extra caution on what you eat 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.
4. Carry a medical kit
Travelling with a traveller’s medical kit is helpful, the best kits 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.