Summer travel: advice for students and young holidaymakers
Off on a summer break? See our guide to staying safe and healthy abroad
Before you travel
Check our country pages for current health risks at your destination, including any vaccine and malaria recommendations, and see the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office country pages for the latest safety and security advice.
Ideally, visit a travel clinic at least four to six weeks before you travel to check your routine UK vaccines are in date and get any recommended travel vaccines and malaria tablets.
Going on a last-minute holiday?
It's never too late to get travel health advice; some vaccines can be given last minute, and malaria tablets (if needed) can be started on the day you travel.
It's still important to check COVID entry requirements and consider your COVID risk during the journey and at your destination; see our general advice for travellers.
Get comprehensive travel health insurance that covers medical evacuation (being brought home to the UK for hospital care if you have a medical emergency), any pre-existing health conditions, prescribed medicines and all the activities you plan to do while away. Apply for a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) for travel to some European countries (EHIC arrangements expired on 31 December 2020). Check the GOV.UK website for updates and advice. Remember a GHIC card only gives you access to basic emergency care in European Union/European Economic Areas countries, and you still need your own travel insurance.
Take a basic first kit including items like pain relief, gauze, antiseptic, tape, plasters, tweezers and any medicines you take.
While you are away
- Alcohol – eat before drinking alcohol and have plenty of water and soft drinks. Remember, alcoholic drinks may be stronger than at home and hot weather can make you more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. Avoid alcohol sold in unlicensed places like street markets, as it could be fake and could put you at risk of severe, even fatal poisoning. Never accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended.
Try to moderate your intake: alternating every alcohol with a soft drink is a great way to reduce your alcohol consumption and stay hydrated. Don't do something you regret- too much alcohol can reduce your inhibitions, could put your health at risk and increases your chance of having an accident or doing something risky.
Never drink and drive or swim after drinking.
- Stay safe – take care on and around balconies and water. Never dive into a swimming pool from a balcony. Follow local advice about tides and never swim alone. Always wear a helmet if riding a horse, bicycle or motorbike/moped. Avoid driving at night.
- Blood-borne infections – body piercing, tattoos, illegal drug use and unprotected sex all put you at risk of blood-borne illnesses like HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. You may be tempted to get tattoos/piercings abroad, but safety standards are unlikely to be the same as in the UK. If you decide to get tattoos or body piercings abroad, always check sterile, single use needles are used and disposed of carefully after each procedure.
- Food and water – be careful with what you eat and drink and follow basic hygiene rules.
- Travellers' diarrhoea is common – be prepared. Visit a chemist before you go and get advice about over-the-counter diarrhoea treatments suitable for your trip. Remember to drink plenty of fluids and if you have diarrhoea with blood and/or fever, see a doctor straight away.
- Protect yourself against insects and ticks – as well as causing skin irritation, in some countries insect and tick bites can also result in disease. Reduce your risk by covering up and using insect repellents. In areas with insect-spread illnesses like malaria, reduce bites by using air-conditioning, mosquito nets and window screens in your accommodation whenever possible.
- Safer sex – carry condoms and see NHS advice about sex activities and risk.
- Sun protection – use an SPF sunscreen of at least 30 UVA/UVB and reapply frequently, especially after swimming, wear a hat and sunglasses.
When you return
Get urgent medical attention for any fever or flu like symptoms and remember to tell your doctor you've been abroad. This is especially important if you visited malaria risk countries, even if you took malaria prevention tablets and have been home for a while (an urgent malaria test must be arranged).
If you had unprotected sex while abroad or think you might have a sexually transmitted infection, go to a free, confidential sexual health clinic for advice.
- ABTA the travel association - Have a safe and healthy holiday
- ABTA the travel association: Top tips for swimming safely
- ABTA the travel association: Quad bike and moped safety
- ABTA/FCDO: Balcony Safety
- ABTA: Advice for young holidaymakers
- Drinkaware: Staying safe on holiday
- Drinkaware: The dangers of fake alcohol
- Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office: Foreign travel checklist
- Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office: Travel tips and advice if you're heading to a music festival abroad
- Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office: Mental health and wellbeing abroad
- Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office: Visiting friends and relatives abroad: health advice
- FRANK: Spiking - how to protect yourself on a night out
- Personal safety
- Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents: Staying Safe on Holiday
- Travelling internationally to celebrate Pride
- Travel Aware - Get Travel Smart
A link to ABTA advice for young holidaymakers added to resources.
Protection from insect and tick bites is essential to help prevent vector-borne diseases such as malaria, yellow fever and ZikaUpdated: 01 February 2023
Follow our advice for a safe and healthy tripUpdated: 12 February 2024
Factors to consider when assessing risk of Zika virusUpdated: 01 February 2024
Taking care of your personal safety abroadUpdated: 20 July 2023
Malaria is a serious and potentially life threatening disease, transmitted to humans through the bite of infected female Anopheles spp. mosquitoesUpdated: 13 February 2024
Yellow fever is caused by a virus, which circulates between infected monkeys or humans and mosquitoesUpdated: 14 January 2020
Following advice on food and water hygiene is sensible, but travellers should always be prepared to manage the symptoms of travellers' diarrhoeaUpdated: 06 February 2019
Preparing for healthy travel
Protection from insect and tick bites is essential to help prevent vector-borne diseases such as malaria, yellow fever and ZikaUpdated: 09 August 2020
Travellers must declare medical conditions when taking out travel insurance to ensure they are suitably coveredUpdated: 26 September 2019
Enjoy the sun safely - limit your sun exposure, protect your skin and eyes to avoid damage from the sun’s ultra violet raysUpdated: 24 October 2018
Special risk travel/traveller
Information on pre-travel preparation, tips to stay healthy abroad and links to useful resources for travellers with neurological diseasesUpdated: 24 September 2020
For humanitarian aid workers and those advising those travelling to areas of conflict or disasterUpdated: 05 December 2019
Travel health advice for travellers and health professionalsUpdated: 28 June 2022
A list of courses, conferences and study days of relevance to UK health professionals working, or wishing to work, in the field of travel medicineUpdated: 14 March 2017
Online guides and webinar sessions for health professionals interested in travel healthUpdated: 21 January 2024
Information for health professionals on availability of vaccines and use of unlicensed productsUpdated: 17 October 2022