Last Updated on January 6, 2024
Health and fitness holidays in the UK have gained immense popularity in 2023. With The Guardian’s extensive catalog of wellness travel featuring everything from invigorating running breaks in Scotland to serene mindful walking weekends in Wales, the spotlight on traveling for your well-being has never been stronger. However, as tourists increasingly seek vacations that align with their health goals, prioritizing well-being beyond simple wellness retreats is equally important.
A proactive approach to health ensures you can enjoy the mainland and different islands of the UK without worrying about getting sick along the way. To maximize your health outcomes, preparation must begin long before the first boarding call. Below, we take a closer look at four health to-dos before traveling to the UK in 2024.
Update your vaccines
Traveling increases your chances of spreading diseases that are rare in your home country. Hence, updating your vaccines is not only a preventive measure for your well-being but also a responsible action to protect the communities you visit.
For example, there are routine vaccines that are recommended for anyone going to the UK, such as chickenpox, shingles, or the flu. You can always have additional vaccines for certain conditions if you think you’re more likely to be exposed to them. For instance, hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for travelers who plan to visit smaller villages and rural areas. Otherwise, it’s crucial to check for any travel health notice regarding current health issues in your destination. As of September 2023, the UK was placed under Level 2 Practice Enhanced Precautions for poliovirus, so it would be wise to be up to date on your polio vaccines.
Check your eye health
Vision health can significantly impact your adventures. Yet, the process of safeguarding your eye health can vary across different locations. For one, eyeglass wearers who lost their glasses may struggle to find a new pair in rural areas, leading to blurry and uncomfortable vision for the rest of the trip. In that case, it’s best to have spare eyeglasses on hand.
However, there are various accessible options for vision care. If you need to immediately replace your eyewear, then you can find affordable options for different types of glasses at eyewear retailer Glasses Direct, with deals such as 2-for-1 designer frames from £69 (approximately $88). This can be ordered online and delivered directly to your accommodations. If you need a new prescription, then you can easily book an eye test at the multiple branches of Asda Opticians or Vision Express. You might also qualify for a free eye test from the NHS in Scotland as an overseas visitor, so try to register with a general medical practice as soon as you arrive at your destination.
Check your oral health
Maintaining good oral health is vital on international journeys, especially longer trips. Similar to eye health maintenance, however, this process can be a little difficult in a new location. This can be particularly challenging in the UK, which has had a shortage of dentists since 2021, with dental tourism at record highs. In fact, UK-based consultancy Medical Travel Market received over 1,500 inquiries in 2023, up more than 450% from 2022.
Thus, consulting with a dentist before any extended trip is crucial, especially for those with ongoing treatments, such as braces or retainers. Your dentist may need to adjust your braces to a safer setting before your travels or equip you with an extra retainer. These will help you avoid the inconvenience of seeking orthodontic treatment during your travels. If it comes down to it, then you may have to find a private clinic in the UK or line up for NHS dental services if eligible.
Secure travel insurance
As you embark on the journey of a lifetime, it’s crucial to have a safety net in place. Factors such as trip duration or destinations should be taken into account when securing travel insurance. For instance, annual contracts normally cover up to 30 days maximum, whereas backpacking insurance can range from three months to a year. A helpful tip: most travel insurance comes with a deductible that you must pay beforehand. Clarify this policy when making any purchase.
That being said, take your time to compare several insurance companies, then, upon your selection, inform your provider about your travel plans. Understanding your coverage for medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and unexpected events will provide peace of mind throughout your journey.
By prepping in advance, you lay the foundation for a journey to the UK filled with memorable moments and peace of mind. Remember, taking care of your health is not only a personal responsibility but also a commitment to fostering a healthier global travel community.