Going away for sun, sea, sand and stress

By Ruth Joseph, July 8, 2010
Bring the proper medication and prepare well, and you will have a dream holiday rather than a nightmare

Bring the proper medication and prepare well, and you will have a dream holiday rather than a nightmare

At last summer has arrived and those dreams of sun-kissed beaches, palm trees and gentle walks on balmy evenings are materialising as your planned summer holiday becomes a reality.

Of course you are looking forward to it - it will be great, all the family together, good food, plenty to drink and hopefully a good time enjoyed by all. But statistics show that often this big holiday, with its huge expectations and cost, can be the cause of arguments, sickness and even, in some cases, depression. But organisation can help you to protect yourself against the negative consequences.

Often the stress begins at the airport or station, or even before. So prepare by having all your passports, tickets, documents and currency ready in one bag, plus home-keys for your return. Remember flying rules and place a minimum of makeup and any liquids you plan to take on board in a small plastic bag. Some airlines will weigh your in-flight bag, so beware. And ensure that if you need medication, that it is safely stowed with your hand-luggage.

New statistics show that the majority of women dread a beach holiday as they hate themselves in a bathing costume or bikini. Best tip is to use some fake tan before the trip, as golden skin looks more attractive. A few more pounds can then look positively glamorous. If still anxious then a generous sarong may be a good friend. Once on the beach, with a good book and a drink at your side and still something is wrong? Those working in massively stressed occupations often find that instant relaxation does not necessarily happen. And sometimes when work finishes a migraine or general feeling of irritation may follow.

Perhaps you are not used to being with the family in such close proximity for so long? There's the tiny shared bathroom or small living room when you're used to a large house. It is not always ideal.

Ensure that if you are with children that they are well occupied - take plenty of toys and offer them fresh fruit juices, not sweets or colas which will raise their sugar levels and make them hyper, causing you further irritation. Certainly for under-fives, buckets and spades by the beach is ideal.

If possible work out a way, if there are two of you, that one entertains while the other relaxes - this way both will get their time off and resentment will not build into "the holiday row". If children are older, organise promised time for them, maybe a water park, an aquarium or even a walk to the shops explaining that you also need your moments of relaxation.

Although the food is always more tempting on holiday, try not to overeat and, if you are in a country where you are unsure of hygiene levels, avoid salads, ice and ice-cream, and use bottled water even for brushing teeth. It is a shame but a dodgy stomach is not holiday fun.

However, drink plenty of fresh bottled water as re-hydration in hot circumstances is essential. If you do become dehydrated and are suffering, then the standard treatment of mixing one litre of water with half a teaspoon of salt and approximately 6-8 teaspoons of sugar should make you feel much better.

Holiday sun gives us extra vitamin D and certainly we feel better being outdoors. But to avoid problems, take plenty of sun-cream, light cover-up clothes and remember hats - crucial to a good holiday. Sadly, 40,000 new cases of melanoma (skin cancer) are reported every year. So protect yourself with a high SPF - at least factor 30 to begin with - and kids an even higher factor. Choose a sunscreen that protects against ultraviolet light, which causes aging. This is indicated by stars- choose three stars at least.

Do not lie in the midday sun but do pack a mini-medical kit including anti-mosquito lotion, room plug-ins, travel sickness pills, sting soother spray, plasters, a disinfectant lotion, paracetamol, a simple cream for cuts and blisters, Calpol and or Baby Nurofen for children, lotion for sunburn, antacids and Immodium - a travel essential - plus a simple anti-histamine in case of prickly heat or nasty stings. Finally I never travel without Arnica - a homeopathic help for painful bumps and bruises.

Treat yourself to good sunglasses. You need lenses that conform to British standards - BS 2724, and the higher shade number the better. For when you wear sunglasses, the pupil in the eye opens out wider and so lenses that filter out UV rays are beneficial.

Ensure that your holiday insurance covers problems of ill-health as a bill for treatment abroad will cause pain long after the physical problem is cured.

If you are in Europe then an EHIC should allow most UK residents cheaper, and sometimes free, treatment.

As long as you remember to take a few basic precautions and guard against some of those holiday pitfalls, you should have the time of your life.

Last updated: 11:45am, July 8 2010