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As easy as ABC...your essential guide to staying healthy on holiday

From a first aid kit to emergency fillings, Arlene Harris gives her top tips on how to survive your summer break ...


Kids need extra minding from the sun on holiday

Kids need extra minding from the sun on holiday

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Making a splash: put safety first when having fun in the pool

Making a splash: put safety first when having fun in the pool

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First aid kit

First aid kit

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Keep hydrated: drinking plenty of water is even more important in warmer climes

Keep hydrated: drinking plenty of water is even more important in warmer climes

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Mosquito repellent

Mosquito repellent

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Kids need extra minding from the sun on holiday

It's fair to say that I'm a pretty seasoned traveller and whether flying solo or en famille, I've covered more than a few miles. But while it's always great heading off into the wild blue yonder, there is nothing worse than falling ill or getting injured when far away from home with all its familiarity and comfort.

So, with the summer getaway season in full swing, here are my top tips for optimum holiday health - both mental and physical:

A ALCOHOL: It's fairly obvious, but too much alcohol can really take its toll on holiday. And while it's always tempting to have another tequila sunrise or strawberry daiquiri, it's probably best to err on the side of caution - at least some of the time - as liquid lunches and late-night cocktails do not mix too well with blistering heat, particularly if you've got small kids.

B BEACH BODY: Acquiring the perfect beach body is the holy grail for many people, but it's not the greatest of ambitions. If you need to lose weight for health reasons, by all means go for it. But if you're stressing out about not looking like Elle McPherson in a bikini, just stop. Worrying about stretch marks or cellulite is bad for your mental health and will spoil your holiday. So enjoy the beach and the sunshine with whatever body you are blessed with.

C CHILDREN: Kids need extra minding on holiday - from the sun, the sea and too many treats - so without spoiling their fun, ensure their health and wellbeing is top priority.

D DRUGS: Whether it's a cough, headache or something more serious, we all rely on drugs occasionally - and if we feel unwell on holiday, finding a chemist and explaining your plight can be difficult. So make sure to pack all prescribed medications and some basics, so you don't find yourself in dire need during siesta time.

E ESSENTIAL OILS: They can also work wonders and I never go anywhere without a little bottle of lavender oil and another of tea tree. The former is a miracle cure for stings, minor burns and bug bites, while the latter is a great antiseptic.

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F FIRST AID: While you don't need to bring an entire first aid kit, it's worthwhile throwing in a few essentials such as plasters, eye drops, antihistamine tablets and a bandage or two.

G GLASSES: Whether for reading, driving or shading your eyes from the sun, make sure you have all the glasses you need. Sunglasses are a must and I always bring a spare pair. But prescription glasses are even more important, as we found to our cost when Mr H's specs broke on the first night of a trip. He got by with a bodge-job involving a sticking plaster, but it was far from ideal.

H HILLS: A great means of keeping fit. And while exercising on holiday might seem contradictory, a fortnight of lazing by the pool can take its toll. So don't be put off by a bit of a climb - some of our best trips have been staying at the top of a hill, and while the morning bread run was tough for the first few days, by the end of the holiday we hardly noticed the hike, and the views were amazing.

I INSECTS: Both flying and crawling, they can be a nuisance and a hazard, so make sure to be prepared. Repellent will keep the buggers (pardon the pun) at arm's length, while inoculation will help protect you from pests carrying potentially dangerous diseases in far-flung places. So, visit your GP well in advance of travelling to make sure you have all the necessary jabs.

J JOGGING: It might be a wonderful means of exercise, but jogging in the heat can cause problems such as exhaustion, headache and even heatstroke. If your daily routine involves a run, rise early and get it done before it gets hot.

K KNOWLEDGE: They say knowledge is power, so knowing where the local medical centre, pharmacy or hospital is could be very beneficial in an emergency. It only takes a few minutes to research but it might be a life-saver.

L LUGGAGE: You probably have loads of lovely sundresses you don't get to wear, but don't overdo the luggage. One carry-on case should suffice, particularly if heading to the sun. Too many bags means extra time waiting in the airport, extra cost and extra stress. So look after your mental health and leave half your wardrobe at home.

M MOSQUITOES: If, like me, you are a magnet for mosquitoes, you'll understand the misery they can cause. Ask for a room with fly screens or, if that's not possible, with air conditioning so you can keep windows closed. Deter mosquitoes by wearing light-coloured clothes, burning citronella candles when sitting outside and, of course, stocking up on that all-important repellent.

N NOISE POLLUTION: It can be bad for both mental and physical health, so when booking accommodation, make sure it's not located over a nightclub, alongside a main road or train station as nothing is worse than staring at the ceiling at 4am in a cramped, airless apartment. And don't be afraid to ask for a different location if you find yourself in a noise-filled neighbourhood.

O ORAL HEALTH: No one likes going to the dentist, but it's a necessary evil. So if you are planning a lengthy trip, book an appointment before you go to ensure your oral health is in order, as trying to arrange a filling or (shudder) an extraction while on safari would not be fun. Also make sure to keep a supply of floss, toothpaste and even emergency fillings.

P PROTECTION: Whether you're a parent with young children, a singleton looking for romance or an older couple on holiday, protection (be it from the sun, an STD, unwanted pregnancy or an injury) is vital, so make sure to pack for every eventuality.

Q QUININE: If heading to the tropics, you will hopefully have received all the necessary vaccinations, but it's still worth taking a supply of quinine tablets to ward off malaria and other nasty diseases.

R REST: Make sure to relax and put a restriction on screen time for both adults and kids. Switch off with real books, walks, swimming or sightseeing. Getting away from work and social media is crucial for all ages.

S SHOES: When travelling, I get plagued with sore feet, so always bring a variety of shoes, with flat and comfortable being the key ingredients. If heels are essential, keep for night-time only. And bring some slipper socks or even the disposable variety provided by hotels.

T TRANSLATION: My eldest son is prone to anaphylaxis so it's vital that we can convey this in restaurants - and this is why correct translation is crucial. Make sure you know exactly how to describe a condition, writing it down if you find the language difficult to speak.

U UPDATE: Getting injured or falling ill on holiday is very disappointing, but receiving medical help (and paying for it) will be much easier with the right travel insurance. So make sure to update all policies before you travel.

V VEHICLE: Hiring a car might seem like the obvious thing to do on holiday, but it's worth trying to get by without a vehicle for at least a few days as you will be forced to walk further and take public transport, which will add exercise into your day and make the trip more interesting.

W WATER: Staying hydrated is really important in the heat and many people don't realise how dehydrated they are. So, it's vital to drink lots of water throughout the day. But always make sure the tap water is drinkable and if at all in doubt, stick to the bottled variety.

X XENOPHOBIA: There are xenophobic people all over the world, but some holiday resorts seem to have a higher concentration of those with an illogical dislike of others, so do your best to steer clear and don't get involved in debate as it will ruin your mood and your relaxed holiday vibe.

Y YOGA: The idea of yoga on the beach is very wholesome and zen-like, but not everyone can do a lotus position. However, a few gentle yoga stretches can be a lovely way to start the day.

Z ZZZZ: Holidays should leave you feeling refreshed and revived on your return, so getting enough sleep is important. If late nights are your thing, try to get into the habit of taking a siesta in the afternoon. Bon voyage!

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