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Travel tips: Health comes first

Here are a few important safety guidelines to consider before you embark on your next adventure.

The opportunity to travel is a great adventure and often ignites a deep appreciation of unfamiliar destinations, whether local or abroad. However, in order to make the most of any expedition, careful thought, planning and preparation are vital.

Here, Selfmed offers a few important safety guidelines to consider before you embark on your next adventure.

Get a medical check up

Ensure that you are physically fit and healthy for travel. It is highly recommended to visit your nearest travel clinic or doctor prior to your trip in order to assess your medical history and take the necessary precautions needed to remain safe. You can also enquire about any immune boosting medication and whether or not you will need any special immunisations or medical screenings before you leave home. Many countries and visa processes will require you to have booster shots taken before you are allowed access into these nations. Be sure to find out exactly what is needed for the specific areas you will be visiting.

High risk areas

When travelling through areas where there are higher risks of infectious illness, even within South African borders, it is always better to be prepared and help prevent the spread of any known communicable disease. South Africa’s Kruger National Park region, for instance, requires precautionary measures against Malaria, a disease transmitted by mosquito bites. One should obtain tablets from a pharmacy and drink the medicine prior to your trip.

Be aware of what you consume

Always opt for bottled water while travelling and avoid drinking tap water in unknown areas where running water may be contaminated. Also, avoid the need to add ice to your drinks – ice is typically made from tap water, which again, could compromise your health in many areas around the world. The same goes for any hot drinks. Always ensure that your tea, coffee and hot chocolate drinks are made with boiled or purified water that is safe for consumption.

General wellness and hygiene

Illness while travelling can ruin your entire trip. Take extra precautions to ensure optimum health. Wash your hands regularly after using public toilets or handling any airport trolleys. Thousands of people touch these items every day and they are often a breeding ground for bacteria. Limit the spread of germs even further by keeping a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your bag for quick and easy disinfection. Practice good hygiene throughout your travels and avoid unwanted sickness that could destroy your travel plans.

Research your destination

For greater ease of mind, it is advised to research the financial, political and economic environments of the places you will be visiting, especially if staying in exotic locales with different laws and customs than what you may be used to. Is the area politically or economically stable for safe tourism? A basic understanding of the people, language and culture will also give you a greater sense of confidence before your trip.

Early planning

Spontaneous holidays can be great fun, but not always. Advanced planning and detailed organisation will help you make the best choices when it comes to a safe and memorable trip. Ensure that all your travel documents are in order at all times. If you need to apply for a travel visa, ensure that you adhere to all the applicable visa requirements and apply early as the process may take up to six weeks. Your passport is your lifeline while travelling outside of South Africa. If travelling with children you will also need their birth certificates and necessary parental consent – check for updated laws and requirements for travelling with kids before you book your travels.

Last thoughts

When planning a holiday, make sure that your health, and that of your family, is a priority before going away on a trip. Get your check-ups, remember your prescribed medications, take precautionary medications for high risk areas, be careful of consuming food and drink that might be contaminated and remember to wash your hands often – with soap and water – water alone is not good enough*! We wish you safe and healthy travels! Bon Voyage!

*Did you know? The duration that you should spend washing and rinsing your hands is equivalent to the duration of the song “Happy Birthday to you”? Next time when washing your hands, test yourself on whether you have reached this very vital health goal: avoiding illness by maintaining a good hygiene routine.

Quality medical aid cover in South Africa

Selfmed Medical Scheme is a South African medical aid that offers reliable medical aid cover to South Africans of all ages and health levels. Since its inception in 1965, Selfmed has provided access to the highest quality healthcare to its members, and this, combined with excellent service and sincere advice, has made us one of the most experienced medical aids in South Africa.

For more information, visit Selfmed Medical Scheme at


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