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Missed flights, food poisoning and bad weather: Things to try and avoid on holiday

  • What are common problems people face on holiday?
  • What can you do to avoid them?
  • Where are good places to go?

After two months of glorious sunshine last year, it seems summer might have given us a miss in Manchester this time around, so you wouldn't be blamed for wanting to jet away to pastures greener.

But isolated as we are on an island, there are a number of creatures and diseases we don't have to contend with on a day to day basis, and we almost exclusively have to travel by air to get anywhere, so plenty of problems can arise.


Travelling in the UK

As covered in a previous article, there are places in Africa easier to get to than Cornwall. Our rail services are expensive and poorly maintained, and the cost of food and drink in most cities quite high, so holidaying in the UK can be more expensive than abroad.

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To get around these issues, you can travel by coach to many places, which takes longer, but is much cheaper. Unless you're staying in a hotel, you will likely have access to cooking facilities and bargain shops such as Lidl and Aldi can be found in pretty much any town in this country, so it shouldn't be too hard to keep your costs down.


Flights

If you want to holiday outside the UK, then you're most likely to need a flight. Airports are stressful places, and you can easily miss your flight, but even if you get on it, you have to consider uncomfortable conditions, motion sickness, delays and of course the possibility of a crash.

The latter is incredibly unlikely; due to all its safety checks, flying is the safest form of transport, but many people fear flying for its deadly consequences should something go wrong. If this is you, there's nothing really to do except to breathe slowly and keep calm.

Flights can often be delayed, especially in the UK where the airports are old and have little room to expand, meaning one small delay can have a knock-on effect. Despite this, flights do not wait for you and you should get to the airport with two hours before departure to not risk missing it. Remember, you have to check in first, then go through security, then find your way to the gate. The gate will close about half an hour before departure time so staff can get all the passengers safely onto the plane, so do yourself a favour and get there early.

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I missed a flight from Manchester Airport once as I took a bit of a scenic route around the terminals and queues were alarming and Ryanair staff entirely unhelpful. It set me back an extra £100 to transfer my flight and I came perilously close to causing a scene in the terminal. Just remember it's not the end of the world if you miss your flight!

Travel sickness and pressurisation can cause problems during flights as well. One of the more common problems with this is a fluke of nature that means the body absorbs alcohol faster in a pressurised cabin. If you suffer regularly from motion sickness or can't handle your alcohol too well, don't drink before your flight as you might end up losing your lunch.

What's better to do is to have anti-sickness tablets (you can get them over the counter at pharmacies), sleeping tablets (if you're a nervous flier and can do with napping on your journey) and chew-sweets (these will help your ears to pop, equalising the pressure in your head as the cabin pressurises/depressurises).


Creatures and illnesses

Depending on where you go, you could be subjected to a lot of creatures we don't have to deal with over here. Mosquitos are the most well-known annoyances abroad - insects that enjoy warm climates and suck your blood, sometimes carrying malaria.

Other things to think about is feral animals in mainland Europe can carry diseases such as raebies, which isn't found in Britain, so don't go stroking stray cats!

If you're going as far afield as Australia, there's a whole horror show of bizarre creatures, such as nightmare-inducingly large spiders, venomous snakes and even kangaroos can deal you a square right-hook if you upset them!

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It's also advisable to check advice for travelling abroad, as there are many recommended jabs and vaccines to take if you're travelling outside this continent. Your GP can advise you on which you need, and a lot of the main vaccines are available for free on the NHS.

Another thing to consider is heat exhaustion. I was in a hotel in Cyprus once when the air conditioning stopped working and me and my brother spent the rest of the holiday throwing up. Should a similar situation befall you, make sure to drink plenty of water and stay in the shade where possible.


Food and drink

Almost everyone has fallen victim to food poisoning on holiday at some point; either through buying food from an unscrupulous vendor, being unaware of the custom of eating it or having a less equipped stomach than locals would expect.

Make sure your food is fresh and cooked properly where you can, and be extra-vigilant if you have any allergies - intolerances to things like milk and eggs are far less common outside of Europe and I've seen horrible mix-ups before where someone has eaten cheese without realising because a chef didn't consider it might trouble a milk allergy...

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Water is another thing to watch out for. Most places in western Europe have drinkable tap water, but get it wrong and you will spend your holiday in the toilet. The website isthewatersafetodrink.com is a handy one to use, which can tell you what you should do for any major destination in a matter of seconds. If in doubt, best not to drink the water until you can check.

There are differing customs to drinking alcohol across the world as well. Some places are more conservative, some more liberal in their approach to alcohol than England. A lot of places in continental Europe have easy access to 24-hour drinking, and it is more common to drink halves or thirds of stronger beer than a pint. In these places, Brits are notorious for drinking far more than they are used to and embarassing themselves, so try not to add to the stereotype!


Chronic illnesses

Having a condition such as eczema or asthma can cause havoc in a different climate. Keeping yourself moisturised can help with the former, and having inhalers and antihistamines to hand can help relieve the latter, but seek advice from your GP in how to cope with a chronic illness in a different climate if you have one.

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Bad weather

As you might be aware from recent reports of a deadly storm in Halkidiki, extreme weather can prove disastrous. Sometimes these things can't be predicted, but there is plenty you can do to help yourself.

Be aware of when rainy or monsoon seasons are, don't travel to hot countries in the height of summer and keep aware of weather trends while you are abroad. If the weather is adverse, don't try to bear it out of spite, keep yourself safe first!

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Also, always make sure you are prepared. If you are going somewhere where rain is likely, bring waterproofs. If you're going somewhere sunny, bring suncream.  It seems obvious, but a lot of Brits are caught out abroad by being poorly prepared for the local climate!


After all that doom and gloom, perhaps you now don't want to leave your house, but if you do, be sure to have a good trip and enjoy your travels. Happy holidays! 

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