Taking a break from a busy schedule allows you to recharge your batteries and enjoy quality time with family and friends. The average working adult in the UK has annual leave entitlement of 25 days a year, but many employees avoid taking their full holiday entitlement from work.
In fact, job demands and a heavy workload without time out for planned holidays can lead to increased stress levels and higher sickness absence levels. It’s therefore important to make sure that we have something to look forward to, and for those of us who do take well deserved breaks, holiday destinations overseas are plentiful and easily accessible.
Media advertisements for far-flung tourist destinations attract many thousands of people every year, and in 2006, 65% of all trips abroad from the UK were made by people going on holiday.
Since 1985, the number of UK residents holidaying abroad has increased threefold as international flights and package holidays have become more accessible, and the days of a holiday on Blackpool beach are almost a thing of the past.
Although holiday destinations such as Spain and France remain most popular, the number of UK residents travelling to destinations in other continents – including South America, Asia and Africa – increased by 23% between 2005 and 2006.
The rise in oil prices this year will undoubtedly have an adverse effect on the price of air flights. Despite this likely added cost for tourists, overseas travel statistics are still predicted to rise.
Many Energy readers are used to overseas deployments and should know the ropes when it comes to staying healthy. So you will know that preventative medicine is an essential consideration before travelling to many parts of the world. Although we live in a relatively disease-free country, for travel to many parts of the world, including some parts of Europe, pre-travel vaccinations and immunisations are essential.
The most common health complaints in travellers returning from tourist destinations such as Egypt and India tend to be gastrointestinal. Bacteria and parasites are the main cause of these tummy upsets, which can often be avoided by taking simple precautions such as avoiding unbottled water, ice cubes in drinks and unpeeled fruit.
Many holidaymakers don’t bother seeking pre-travel health advice due to their assumption that five-star holidays will render them safe from infection and other illnesses. The truth is that a trip to the Maldives, for example, could still result in exposure to vaccine-preventable diseases such as hepatitis A, spread by contaminated food and drink. Again, for those readers familiar with the four and five-star expat routines, such warnings are surely familiar, so don’t let your guard down just because you’re on vacation.
Visits to friends and relatives abroad, especially by members of the migrant population in the UK, account for a large number of the population travelling overseas during the holidays.
This population is often more susceptible to illnesses, including malaria, due to the false presumption that partial immunity acquired during childhood in the native country remains after moving to the UK.
Last-minute travel does not necessarily rule out suitable travel health preparation and precautions. Some vaccines can be administered close to the time of departure, and modern anti-malarials can be started just two days before entering a risky country.
However, whether it is work or play, vaccine schedules for high-risk travel itineraries require earlier appointments in order to complete courses of injections, and in these cases, the responsibility lies with the traveller to book their travel health clinic appointments well in advance.
Up-to-date information is readily available on the internet and websites, including www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk run by Health Protection Scotland (HPS), and these are always a good starting point. What is important is being prepared and realising the need to be well informed in order to return home refreshed and recharged, and ready to return to work.
Pauline Ganley is lead travel health nurse at Abermed, which specialises in providing medical and occupational health services to the international oil&gas industry. See www.abermed.com for more information. It is also useful to know that Abermed offers an extensive travel health service to holidaymakers, expatriates and business travellers