"We are now well and truly into our Southern hemisphere winter, and you may ask yourself if there is anything special that you can do to prevent getting sick this winter, especially within the context of travel. My advice is to follow these simple rules – many of which make logical sense." – Dr Rolf Verster, Travel Health Consultant
Flu vaccines are by far the most important tool we have for preventing flu. It
is never too late to vaccinate and important to get it before you travel. Flu vaccines are available from doctors' offices, pharmacies and local clinics. Getting vaccinated now is the best way to protect against the three most serious strains of influenza.
Include items in your kit that might be helpful if you get sick, such as tissues, nasal decongestants, pain and fever medicine, soap, and an alcohol-based sanitizer.
Familiarise yourself with the climate and local weather at your destination. Pack the appropriate type of warm clothing. Know where to go if you become sick or injured during your travel. Take malaria prophylaxis if going to a malaria area.
Consult with your doctor to discuss medicines to take with you or advice on what to do should you fall ill. This is especially relevant if you have any chronic disease or pre-existing condition. Travel only when you feel well.
Cover your coughs or sneezes with a tissue. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Roads, rocks and pavements can become icy and slippery which are hazards for visitors unfamiliar with such conditions. Wear slip-resistant footwear with rubber treads when walking on snow and ice-covered walkways. Children and senior citizens are more prone to serious injuries.
Avoid unnecessary exposure to extreme climatic conditions. Thake the wind chill factor into account and dress appropriately if you need to go outside. Protect your eyes and skin – use lip balm for chapped lips or even as prevention.
Wet clothing can chill the body, making you more susceptible to illness. If it's raining, sleeting, or snowing, cover up with waterproof outerwear that prevents snow and ice from dampening your clothing.
Even though you may not feel thirsty in the cold weather, your body still perspires. You should, therefore, drink just as much water as you would in warmer weather. Make sure that you drink enough water and monitor the colour of your urine – dark urine indicates dehydration.