Staying Healthy Abroad and Avoiding the Top 5 Travel Bugs

It is no secret that we are travelling further and to more ‘exotic’ destinations than we were some 20 years ago, but what I was surprised to learn from a newspaper article the other day, is that six out of ten travellers fall sick during their holiday!

Staying Healthy Abroad and Avoiding the Top 5 Travel Bugs

Spanish tummy, sunstroke and mosquito bites are about as serious as it gets in the Mediterranean, but if you are heading down to South America, Southern Africa or Southeast Asia, you might want to stock up on the Imodium and do a little research before you leave home, if you are to avoid the Top 5 most common Travel Bugs:

1. Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea, Deli-belly, Spanish tummy, we’ve heard it all, but a surprising amount of travellers seem to get an upset stomach while they are away.  Bottled water is a must in any country below the equator (and many above it), and if you do have a sensitive tum, you should avoid ice too.

While I seem to have a stomach lined with steel, I always put chilli on my food abroad, avoid salad (unless I have seen it washed) and stick to bottled drinks, and in the 50-odd countries I have visited so far, I have only had an upset stomach once – in England!

2. Food Poisoning

This can happen anywhere in the world, and there have been more cases reported in the UK during this sweltering summer spell than ever before, but if you are going somewhere warm and tropical on holiday, you need to take extra care.

Be wary of ‘all day buffets’ at all-inclusive resorts, and if you buy fresh fruits and salads from local markets give them an extra good wash – much the same as you would at home.  Tabasco seems to serve me well, and as I have it on virtually everything – it must keep the bacteria at bay!

3. Insect Bites

Now this is where I do not do too well! If there is one mosquito within a hundred mile radius, you can guarantee it will find me!

Insect repellent is always handy to have in your suitcase, and if you are heading to tropical countries during their summer months, it is a necessity.  While most mosquito bites are harmless (but damn itchy!), malaria is present in many African,South American and Asian countries. It is therefore advisable to do your research before you leave home.

4. Sun Burn

It is so tempting to lie out in the sun ALL DAY on the first day of your holiday, but the after effects can be quite devastating.  Sunburn is not only painful but it also increases the risk of skin cancer (especially amongst children), so take it easy and slap on the factor 30!

5. Heat Stroke

A knock-on effect from the sunburn, heat stroke can leave you feeling dizzy, nauseous and violently ill, so stay cool and drink plenty of water during the heat of the day.  I’m not even going to suggest you keep your cocktails to a minimum; you are on holiday after all, so just wear a big hat and sit under a palm tree when you sip a Mojito!

Do You Suffer from Travel Nerves?

Having learnt the ‘art’ of travel from my extremely chilled out other half, I can honestly say I would head to the airport right now with nothing more than my passport, a credit card and a few changes of clothes – destination unknown.

I know there are many travellers out there who feel the same, but when it comes down to it, would you really dare to head off to say Southern Africa, South America or Southeast Asia without a full itinerary, a well-packed suitcase and your first aid kit?

Having worked almost 17-years in the travel industry, I have seen quite a few cases of ‘travel nerves’ in my time, and I could probably write a book with the stories I have heard, but that has made me appreciate my own travels even more, and learn that even when things go wrong – it is never as bad as it seems.

Caught in a Monsoon

Stranded on ‘sunny’ Koh Samui, Thailand

I have been caught up in extreme weather conditions that caused me to miss my flight, I had my round-the-world flight ticket cancelled half-way through the trip as I had to jet back to Europe for a funeral, and I have been stranded on an island for 3 days without electricity in the middle of a monsoon – but you know what, everything worked out just fine, and they turned out to be some of the best holidays I have ever had!

Caught in a monsoon

Even 5-Star Hotels can’t cope with Monsoon Rains – So we thought we would lend a hand!

For me, travel is one of life’s luxuries, and if we are lucky enough to visit foreign lands we should relax, take our time to enjoy the country at their pace (not ours), and appreciate that local services and transport systems may be slightly less “organised and efficient” than our own – but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing!

The world is big, beautiful and just waiting to be discovered, so pack your travel nerves along with your factor 30 and head off into destination unknown – after all, what is the worse that could possibly happen?




Captivating Colombia – One of the World’s Fastest Growing Holiday Destinations

Colombia may have a turbulent past of civil conflict, drug lords and violence, but this amazing country is slowly but surely getting back on its feet and opening up its doors to travellers from across the world who would like to take a peak, and see just what they have been missing.

Offering so much more than coffee plantations, Amazon trekking tours, archaeological ruins and year round sunshine, Colombia has Caribbean like beaches, cosmopolitan cities, quaint Colonial towns, and an eclectic mix of people who will welcome you with open arms.

A fantastic destination for travellers who appreciate natural beauty, hiking through national parks, and the choice of swimming in the Pacific, Atlantic or Caribbean Sea, Colombia really does have it all, and as it shares its borders with five other countries (Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela and Panama), it is the perfect base for discovering Latin America.

Many people start their Colombian journey in the capital city of Bogotá, a city steeped in history and culture. Offering resplendent Churches, fine museums, great shopping opportunities and some of the liveliest nightlife in South America, Bogotá is certainly worth a visit.

The city of Cartagena, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a ‘must see’ for anyone visiting Colombia, but it is so beautiful that you may not want to leave. Sitting on the Caribbean coast, this picture-postcard perfect city is filled with boutique hotels, pavement cafes and leafy plazas.

From Cartagena, you can head out to the majestic islands of San Andres and Providencia for some serious sunbathing, sandy beaches and the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean.  If Amazonian adventures are more your thing, head on down to Leticia, Colombia’s gateway town to the Amazon rainforest, where you can catch boat connections to Manaus  in Brazil or Iquitos in Peru.

If you want to savour Colombia’s finest coffee, head inland to Pereira and take a coffee tour through one of the many plantations. Located in the middle of a triangle formed by Colombia’s three main cities Bogotá, Medellín and Cali, this beautiful University City has much to offer the traveller.

There are too many national parks to list, but they are all worth a visit, and whether you have a week or a year, Colombia has enough going on to keep you entertained.

The FCO still advise against travel to certain areas of Colombia, but as with any country in world, if you stick to “safe zones”, avoid rural areas surrounding the borders (specifically Panama, Venezuela and Ecuador), and use common sense, your journey throughout this beautiful land will be fulfilling, and most importantly, safe.

If You Are Not Sure Where to go on Holiday This Year – Check Out the Happy Planet Index!

Did you know that there are certain countries on our planet that deliver longer, happier and more sustainable lives for the people who live there, than others?

No? Well neither did we, but according to The Happy Planet Index (HPI) some countries have happier and healthier residents than others, and they measure this by calculating our life expectancy, our experienced well-being and our ecological footprint.

One hundred and fifty-one countries made it onto the Happy Planet Index in 2012, and so if you are looking for a happy holiday destination, here are the top five HPI countries, and five reasons to visit them:

1. Costa Rica

Could Costa Rica be the happiest country on the planet?  Well, according to the Happy Planet Index, it is, and if you are looking for a stress free holiday destination, this Latin American paradise should be number one of your holiday list. Beautiful beaches, luxury hotels and friendly locals come as standard.

2. Vietnam

Surprisingly, perhaps, Vietnam made the number 2 spot on the Happy Planet Index.  A modern destination for world travellers, it manages to retain the charm of South East Asia, while offering all the luxuries one expects on holiday.

3. Colombia

Colombia might not be your typical holiday destination, but it has so much to offer the traveller that we are not surprised this beautiful country picked up the number three spot.  Stunning cities, beautiful beaches and fine cuisine – Colombia has it all.

4. Belize

Beautiful Belize – a charming Caribbean getaway with unspoilt beaches, mystical Mayan Temples, lush rainforests, and their very own barrier reef, it is no surprise that those who live there are a happy bunch!

5. El Salvador

It may have a turbulent history, but that doesn’t stop El Salvador from being the fifth happiest country on the planet! A surfer’s paradise, El Salvador offers an amazing coastline, pristine forests, sparkling lakes, and throws in the odd active volcano for effect.

So if you are feeling tired or down, book that summer holiday, and head off in search of happiness!