Diagnosis: common travel ailments

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Common travel ailments that we can all take precautions to avoid.

Last week doctors classified a new headache – “airplane headache.” According to their research a small number of fliers experience severe pain on one side of the head and behind one eye during some – but crucially not all – take offs and landings.

Doctors haven’t yet been able to figure out what triggers the headaches. Researchers believe changes in the sinus cavities could be the cause. This seems like a reasonable explanation to us: passengers with blocked sinuses from colds often experience severe pain during take offs and landings.

We have a lot of sympathy for sufferers of these airplane headaches. Imagine experiencing unbearable amounts of pain on a flight and having no way of controlling the causes (or getting relief from) it. It’s not as if they can politely ask the captain to stop landing the plane!

This news got us thinking about travel ailments. More specifically, those common travel ailments that we can all take precautions to avoid.

So here’s our quick guide to keeping healthy while on the road.


An astonishing number of adults think getting burned is all part of the travel experience. Sensibly protecting your skin not only reduces your chances of getting skin cancer, but also ensures you look better. A win-win situation if there ever was one!

  • Limit your time in the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Use and regularly re-apply factor 15+ sunscreen
  • Choose sunscreen that is both “broad spectrum” and waterproof

Upset stomach

Many of us suffer from a stomach upset at one point during our travels. Short of never leaving home in the first place, there’s no foolproof plan to avoiding this most common travel ailment – but there are several simple things you can do that will help keep the dreaded diarrhea away.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before eating
  • Wash your hands with soap and hot water after using the toilet
  • Drink water from sealed bottles
  • Avoid salads and only eat cooked vegetables
  • Avoid freshly cut fruit
  • Check that local water is potable


Malaria remains a killer disease in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Respect the disease and take precautions where possible.

  • Before traveling, check if your destination is high risk
  • Where necessary, have your doctor prescribe anti-malarial tablets
  • Avoid mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved tops and pants after sunset
  • Use mosquito repellent with a high concentration of DEET (be careful though, as DEET can be damaging to your clothes)


The advice to everyone is simple: practice safe sex.

  • Buy condoms at home, where standards of production are ensured
  • Where possible, store them in a cool, dry place where they can’t be damaged by heat
  • Remember that oil-based products like suntan lotion and lipstick damage condoms
  • Drink alcohol sensibly – be sure to drink lots of water in hot climates


Traveling often wreaks havoc with sleeping patterns, making it difficult for some travelers to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night.

  • Cut down on caffeine, alcohol and sugar
  • Eat foods that are rich in sleep-inducing essential amino acids, like legumes and seeds, dark leafy green vegetables, wheat bran, almonds, cashews and whole grains
  • Try homeopathic remedies, such as Aconite, Calc carb, Ignatia (always read the label)
  • Get physical and spiritual during the day – try yoga or Reiki

Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to…

(Image: Iwishmynamewasmarsha)

Diagnosis: common travel ailments was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Brett Ackroyd
Author: Brett Ackroyd (523 posts)

Brett hopes to one day reach the shores of far-flung Tristan da Cunha, the most remote of all the inhabited archipelagos on Earth…as to what he’ll do when he gets there, he hasn’t a clue. Over the last 10 years, London, New York, Cape Town and Pondicherry have all proudly been referred to as home. Now it’s Copenhagen’s turn, where he lends his travel expertise to momondo.com.