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How to stay well on holiday

01 Oct 2022

Have your best family break yet with our no-nonsense guide

That desperately needed holiday is finally within reach! But are you guilty of these health-busting holiday crimes?

1. There's not long to go, so you're feeding the family...

a) Bread and water. You've saving up for neon inflatables and ice creams, right?!
b) Regular doses of leafy green veg and plenty of whole grains.
c) Curry, calamari and Camembert, to get little tummies used to holiday eating.

Answer: B. Loading up on gut-friendly foods before a trip away can help prevent the much-feared travellers' diarrhoea, as “good” bacteria inhibits harmful strains. Specific bacteria have also been found to ease the effects of allergies, so shop for bacterial culture supplements suited to your individual needs before you go.

2. It's time to pack, and your first-aid kit definitely needs...

a) Plasters bearing summer's hottest licensed character. Preferably in glitter.
b) An aerosol of cooling Hawaiian volcanic water. If the kids pinch it for a water fight, they owe you £18.99.
c) Magic cream. OK, it's plain old antiseptic, but hey, let's not ruin a perfectly good hustle.

Answer: C. Cuts are the number one injury Brits experience on holiday. Keeping wounds clean whatever your environment will help prevent the kind of infections that'll have you turning to the 'In An Emergency' section of your phrasebook.

3. You're at the airport. Before flying you should...

a) Take an elderberry supplement. The fruity flavour will distract from any stinky cabin smells.
b) Check you're seated near a kindly stranger who'll bear the brunt of your kids' excitement while you nap. Sucker!
c) Suss out the WiFi situation – got to get evidence of this #familytime on to Instagram...

Answer: A. Research shows elderberry extract is potent at preventing the upper respiratory symptoms experienced by passengers on long-haul flights. It's also wise to pack anti-bacterial wipes; aeroplane tray tables have been found to host more bacteria than toilet flush buttons. Bleurgh!

4 Aaaand it's hot! When it comes to sunscreen, the kids need...

a) As many squirts as you can get on them as they sing along to that weird song they've been humming EVER SINCE YOU LEFT HOME.
b) Enough to cover all exposed skin. Suddenly Nigella's burkini seems a stroke of genius, doesn't it?
c) Nowt. We didn't wear it in our day, and anyway, it'll all wash off in the pool.

Answer: B. We commonly apply less than is needed to properly protect skin from painful (and potentially damaging) burning, so be generous. NHS advice suggests applying twice: once 30 minutes before you go out, and then just before you step out of the shade.

Handpicked article: How to stay safe and protected in the sun

5. The pool beckons. You need to be aware of...

a) The serious envy this is going to be causing everyone back home. Yessssss!
b) The massive splash that Grandad's 'dives' make. Cover your devices!
c) The endless fuss the kids are going to make about water in their ears.

Answer: C. Regular dips in swimming pools or the sea increase the risk of 'swimmer's ear', or otitis externa, an infection of the outer ear that can occur when ears don't dry out between immersions. Drying the outer ear with a towel or cotton bud can help, while ear plugs can help children prone to inner ear infections.

6. You're blessed with top-end temperatures, so in the daytimes you'll be...

a) Running the kids ragged so you can enjoy a peaceful evening and decent lie-in. Nice.
b) Encouraging a siesta. They get to stare at a tablet, you get a kip. Everyone's a winner.
c) Soaking up the vitamin D – if you wanted rickets you'd have stayed at home.

Answer: B. Fun as Calvin Harris made it sound, heat stroke is a medical emergency. Avoid it by staying out of the sun between 11am and 3pm, steering clear of intense exercise and drinking plenty of cold fluids. Topping up on sleep may also guard against ‘leisure sickness’, the phenomenon that causes over-stressed workers to get ill when taking a break.

7. The bright sunlight really is dazzling, time to...

a) Get yourself a rustic straw hat at the market. OK, it'll look naff back on the streets at home, but who cares?
b) Take as many snaps of the family as you can. Studio-style lighting without the photographer's fee!
c) Dig out those blinging “designer” sunglasses you bought at the beach. Fake it 'til you make it, baby!

Answer: A. Strong sunlight is a common cause of migraine, which sufferers will know has the potential to wipe out a whole day from your itinerary. UV light can also cause long-term damage. Check with your optician whether your glasses or contacts have UV protection, and make sure to travel with sunglasses carrying a CE or British Standard mark.

Enjoy your holiday and, most importantly, stay healthy.

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