You and Your Health: Travel

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With Andrew Watson of Goodmeasure Pharmacy, Rotherham

The family holiday season is upon us but before we arrive at our desired destination for a well-earned break we may have to undergo the stress of air travel.

To make travelling more plane sailing this summer, follow our useful hints and tips for a healthy start to your holidays.

Medication

While passing through airport security can be a drawn-out process, it can become more fraught if we have to take medication or young passengers with us.

For those with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart problems, you will of course need to take your prescription on holiday too.

The main tip is to be prepared. It is advisable to take two copies of your prescription with you, one for your cabin bag and one for your hold luggage. The names of the medicines should be in generic form, not brand name, as other countries use different names for the same substances. This will help you obtain your medicine more easily if it is lost or stolen.

Enhanced airport security means liquids, creams, gels and pastes should be in quantities less than 100gm or 100ml in a sealable plastic bag. However, with the relevant documents from your doctor, you’re entitled to take medicines in quantities more than the allowance.

Pack enough medicine for your trip plus spares just in case, putting most in your suitcase in pharmacy labelled containers but enough in your cabin bag to last for a few days. If you need any additional pharmacy labels ask at your pharmacy.

Aerosols for breathing problems are allowed in the cabin up to 50gm in weight. Also sufficient insulin for a few days and disposable syringes can be taken into the cabin along with a covering letter from your GP. The temperature in the hold is cool enough for storage of anything that needs refrigeration but ask your pharmacist about storage once abroad.

Be prepared to answer questions at the security gate and always check the rules for the type or amount of controlled drugs banned in the country you are travelling to.

Children and Babies

Travelling with a baby or toddler can be difficult and sometimes hard work. But it can also be plane sailing if you prepare.

Baby medicines and milk can be carried on in larger amounts than 100ml but will be subject to screening – you may be asked to taste each bottle. The cabin staff will put baby food in the fridge once on board.

Along with your own hand luggage, most airlines also allow a 5kg baby bag for you to fill with essentials for children under two – nappies, wipes, spare bottles and clothes etc. You are also allowed a pushchair with either a carry seat, booster seat or travel cot but be sure to pack them in a travel bag for ease. Don’t forget a separate passport is needed for baby.

On a long haul flight, a night flight is ideal as hopefully your baby will sleep in their routine. The worst time is take-off and landing when babies cry because of pressure changes in the ear; at this time it helps if you give your baby a bottle, breastfeed or a dummy as the sucking helps equalise the pressure. An extension seat belt is available so you can nurse your baby on your lap.

Toddlers present different problems, they need watching carefully in the airport and it is a good idea to write your mobile number on the back of their hand in case you do lose them. Once on the plane, it’s best not to sit them in an aisle seat so they are away from the passing trolley. Pack plenty of small toys and games. A tablet with games and films loaded on (and headphones) will help pass the time peacefully – and quietly.

A bag with sugar free snacks such as chopped fruit, breadsticks, cheese cubes etc avoids a sugar rush but something to suck along with a drink at take-off and landing helps equalise pressure in the ears.

If all else fails, remind them of the Aeroplane Police who will tell them off for playing with the tables, kicking the back of seats or climbing around the plane.

Time for You

Once you’ve everyone else sorted it’s time to think about yourself. Aeroplanes are not a very hospitable environment. The air is drier and this causes dehydration affecting your skin, eyes and hair, so take moisturiser and drink plenty of water. You can refill your empty water bottle at a drinking fountain after going through security, staff should tell you where these are. The plus to drinking lots of water is that it necessitates trips to the toilet which is good for preventing blood clots in your legs.

Being confined with so many people and recycled air makes it easier to pick up an infection so a course of Echinacea, either tablets or liquid, starting a few days before your journey will help improve your immune system. Have some antibacterial wipes handy for your hands after touching toilet doors.

The main thing is to try to relax, always know where your passport and travel documents are, take deep calming breaths, have a mental picture of your lovely destination and look forward to enjoying your holiday.

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