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Have a Safe Trip!

It is very important to plan your trip carefully if you are going to travel overseas, especially if you are new to travelling!

If you think ahead, you can stay fit and well and keep yourself safe while studying in another country.  Here are some tips to bear in mind when you are going abroad, whether it's a short trip or a longer stay.

Medical insurance
Make sure that you take out some kind of medical insurance that has comprehensive, up-to-date medical cover.  If you are from the UK and you are travelling to another EU country or to Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway, you can apply for a card that entitles you to reduced-cost emergency treatment.  You can apply for this at main Post Offices.

First aid kit
Buy a small travel first aid kit that you can pack away in your suitcase.  Contents could include plasters, paracetomol (unless you are allergic to this) and diarrhoea medicine.  You might also want to take sterile equipment such as syringes if you are travelling to rural, under-developed regions.

Don't forget to pack any personal medication that you normally take - along with any relevant documentation showing what it is for!

Vaccinations
Contact your doctor or specialist travel health clinic as soon as you know the details of your trip so that you can discuss any vaccinations that may be needed.  Start your vaccination programme six weeks prior to departure, if this is appropriate.  To enter countries with yellow fever vaccination requirements, you must have an International Certification of Vaccination.

Malaria precautions
Check if your itinerary includes any malaria zones.  If so, take anti-malaria tablets as prescribed by your doctor.  Treatments in the UK include quinine and fansidar, larium, malarone and doxycycline.  Ask about any possible side-effects and the latest findings in anti-malaria research.  Once you arrive, wear long-sleeved clothes, long trousers and socks, especially after sunset.  Use DEET repellents to exposed skin and use insect-proof clothing treatment.  Put concentrated insect repellent on the edges of your clothes, wrists and ankle bands.  Sleep under a treated mosquito net if your room is not air conditioned.  Remember that malaria can take weeks or months to develop, so pay attention to any possible symptoms, even after you have returned home.

Flying
If you suffer from motion sickness, take some pre-flight medication and ask for a window seat over the wing, as that is the most stable part of a plane.  To reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis, wear flight socks on long flights.  Exercise your ankles and walk around from time to time to keep your blood flowing.  Make sure you drink plenty of water or fruit juice and try to avoid having too much caffeine, alcohol or carbonated drinks.

Jet lag
Set your watch to the time at your destination as soon as you take off.  Rest as much as possible and sleep if you can during the flight.  When planning your schedule, try to give yourself time to adjust.  When you arrive, try to adapt to local time.  Try not to sleep during the day and instead, take a shower, go for a walk and keep active.

Sun protection
The sun is at its strongest from midday until 2pm (3pm in tropical zones).  If you can, wear a hat, a long-sleeved shirt and a good pair of sunglasses.  Use a sunscreen with high UVA and UVB factors.  Drink lots of fluid to help avoid dehydration and heat stroke.  Drink bottled water and carry a small bottle of iodine to purify water.  Avoid drinks with ice cubes if the water might be contaminated.

Personal hygiene
Take extra care in rural, under-developed regions.  Wash your hands frequently, especially in hot climates, to avoid fungal infections.  Don't touch animals or allow them to lick you.  Scratches should be cleaned immediately with antiseptic.

Useful travel health and security websites

National Health Service
www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine:
www.lshtm.ac.uk

Foreign Office:
www.fco.gov.uk/travel