The Health Protection Agency (HPA) does not give travel health advice directly to members of the public, but it works closely with the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC). NaTHNaC develops travel health advice for doctors, practice nurses, pharmacists, and other health professionals so that they can provide a complete travel health advice service to the public. Travel health advice for each country in the world is also available on the NaTHNaC Country Information Pages.
This page is designed to give you, the traveller, all the information you need to get the correct travel health advice so that your trip is not ruined by being ill.
See your doctor/practice nurse or visit a travel clinic well in advance of your trip (ideally 4-6 weeks, but it is never too late) in case you need any vaccinations or malaria tablets. This is also a good opportunity to check that you and your family are up to date with routine vaccinations recommended in the UK schedule. This is important because some childhood infections, such as diphtheria or polio for example, are more common in some countries than they are in the UK.
The most common health problems experienced by travellers are: an upset stomach or travellers' diarrhoea, sunburn, problems from insect bites, sexually-transmitted infections, or accidents and injuries. The links below give advice on how to avoid these problems:
If you are on any regular medications for medical problems, make sure you have sufficient supplies for the duration of your trip (see NaTHNaC advice on transportation of medicines). Exacerbation of chronic health problems such as heart disease or diabetes can also occur and you should have a plan to deal with any chronic medical problems during travel. These issues should be discussed with your doctor before your trip; the National Health Service also provides information about how to access medical treatment should you fall ill while abroad. If you are travelling to countries within the European Economic Area, you should obtain a European Health Insurance card (EHIC) before you go. In addition, all travellers should obtain comprehensive travel health insurance.
For higher risk destinations (see the NaTHNaC Country Information Pages ), as well as the issues mentioned above, there may be other infections (preventable by vaccine or tablets) to consider such as:
Vaccines do not protect against all diseases that may be present in a country. There are other infections that may be transmitted by food and water or by insect bites (e.g. dengue or chikungunya fever), and therefore all travellers should ensure they maintain good food and water hygiene practices and take measures to avoid insect bites. Check the relevant NaTHNaC Country Information Pages and NHS Scotland's NHS Scotland Fitfortravel for the possible risks (and ways to prevent them) in the country you are visiting.
To keep up to date on issues or events around the world which may affect travellers from the UK, including safety and security advice, please see:
If you were born in a malaria-risk area, or lived there for many years, you may assume that you are immune to the disease or that it would not be a serious illness for you. Any acquired immunity does not, however, continue once you have left a malaria-risk area and malaria can still be life threatening to you. Furthermore, children born in the UK will not have any immunity to malaria. You and your family are likely to be at risk of contracting malaria if you return to a malaria-risk area, so you must make sure you are all adequately protected.
More information about travel advice for those not born in the UK is available from the Migrant Health Guide.
Last reviewed: 9 April 2013