Going on holiday and getting ill. A very unfortunate, but also a very regular occurrence with British holidays. There is nothing worse than packing your bags for two weeks of relaxation and luxury, only to spend the time blighted with illness. At best, holiday illness can result in a day or so glued to the hotel toilet, as bacterial infections pass through the body. At worst, illness can end in more severe consequences, with hospitalisation not an uncommon occurrence amongst British holiday makers. Below we take a look at the main preventative measures that can be taken to avoid getting ill whilst abroad.


Travellers’ diarrhoea is the most commonly suffered ailment by those going on holiday abroad. Countries with a poor level of sanitation and a different system often have water with bacteria/parasites that our bodies are not used to. Natives to the country have grown up with the water and their bodies have adapted. Minimise the risk of getting ill through water by only drinking bottled water, and do not eat salads or any food which is likely to have been washed in water.

Be Careful As To What You Eat

The UK has very stringent health standards, which are not always replicated when travelling around Europe and the rest of the world. Ensuring that you eat cooked meat is a sure fire way to reduce the chance of catching salmonella (from chicken), or any other bacterial illness. Don’t try and save money by visiting cheap restaurants, as you may pay the price. Other foods that you may want to avoid to be on the safe side are things such as milk, cheese, shellfish and clams.


Before embarking on holiday, check the vaccination requirements recommended by the NHS. Failure to do so can have severe consequences, as in some countries, particularly in Asia and Africa, there is a high risk of contracting Hepatitis A or B, if you are not protected.

Good Personal Hygiene

Good personal hygiene can minimise the risk of getting ill. That means regularly washing your hands thoroughly with hot water and soap. It may seem like an elementary act, but it can often stop the transmission of bacteria.

Ultimately, whilst steps can be taken to try and to prevent getting ill when going on holiday, sometimes it is impossible to eliminate all risk completely and bugs and sickness can strike.

While they may be an annoyance, the vast majority of the time, they will pass through the system fairly rapidly and generally should not be treated too seriously. It is however when you visit high risk countries for illness and have started to show symptoms of some of the more serious conditions, such as Malaria, or Hepatitis A or B, that immediate action needs to be taken.

Breakthroughs in Malaria vaccination are only just coming to the fore and the main preventative measures that can be taken to avoid contraction of this illness are to use mosquito spray and nets (main carriers of the disease).

Visit our travel clinic section for more advice and information about where you are going and what vaccinations may be required.