As the Easter Season and Holidays approach, and the lots of fun and merry making that go along with the season, many Easter Breakers will be looking forward to sunny destinations and a/or long week(s) of relaxation. Some may travel to tropical hot spots, like Puerto Rico, US territories or Bali, Indonesia, while others may choose for bustling cities, like London or Tokyo and many will be going to their towns and villages unaware of the dangers on route and at the destination.
General Advice To FamilyTravellers:-Family travel usually refers to those going on short trips and usuallyinvolves staying in varied accomodation like good quality accommodation in major cities and large towns, poor rated hotels and accommodation in smaller towns and villages to even sheds and huts in some circumstances.
Good preparation for family trip leads to less stress, is better for your health, and it is also a sign of an organised and alert mind. The family person who is able to think ahead and prepare well for a trip benefits both themselves and the family they represent positively. Allow yourself time to adjust on reaching your destination, especially if you are flying across time zones.It is advisable to have a family checkup preferably before departure to or on arrival in Nigeria.
Allow plenty of time to prepare: Make a schedule of the intended trip. It helps to have a checklist in your scheduler of items needed for the trip. Start as early as possible.(Dont forget your toothbrush and personal items and wear).
With proper pre-travel planning, your family will be mentally and pyschologically prepared to deal with the stress of travel. Have your Flight plans and all necessary details in writing (seperate from your phone organizer) for example hotel address and booking code, important phone numbers. Get information on the area you are visiting, some states have Yellow Fever outbreaks, some Lassa fever, some high risk of violent attacks etc and of course the popular malaria and the less known dengue fever. You can protect your family with the proper advice. Getting your visa earlyis usually helpful. Plan to visit your family Doctor or Travel Clinic nearby to discuss your travel health needs. If vaccinations are compulsory for your destination, your vaccine card should be attached to your passport if possible so as not to loose it. (Rubber band or staple)
Fears of Travel: Travelling is meant to be enjoyed. But in some travellers there is a fear of travel for a myriad of reasons. The planning stages, during the journey itself and adapting to a new environment on arrival. Consideration of the mental wellbeing of travellers is as important as their physical health. This ranges from mild anxiety to extreme anxiety and outright paranoia. This can cause health consequences and adversely affect the immune, cardiovascular, neuro-endocrine and central nervous systems putting you at risk to develop new ailments or worsen current ailments. Mental health problems may be overlooked. Depression and anxiety are responsible for many problems. Only a minority of mental health problems are severe and/or persistent. This could disrupt your travel and even cancelation of your trip or early return home. May occur in travellers with no pre-existing history and in those with a current or previous history of mental illness.
Contributory/Risk Factors: People travel for a wide variety of reasons, many of which place an extra level of stress on the traveller. Those visiting friends and relatives may be travelling at short notice to visit sick relatives, attend a funeral or wedding, all of which can increase the chances of stress. A wide range of factors have been suggested to disrupt stable stress.
Time zone changes and jet lag or sleep deprivation during travel, disruption of normal routines especially due to delays during travel and unexpected events, unfamiliar surroundings and presence of strangers, Language barriers, use of drugs and alcohol and also physical ill health during travel.
Management Strategies: –A pre-travel consultation should always include a previous and current psychiatric history. General assessment of the travellers’ mood that is severe anxiety related to travel plans, Recognition that travelling can be stressful. Travellers with current or previous mental health problems, and those who are anxious about travel should be advised to consider the following points for different stages of their trip.
Pre-Travel:-Ensure journeys are well thought out and that disruption due to delays has been considered and planned for. Where fear of flying is a major cause of anxiety, travellers can be directed to specialised courses run by airlines to combat this.
Ensure the destination, country and language has been well researched prior to the trip in order to prepare for unfamiliar surroundings.
Determine how to access medical facilities, including mental health services during travel.
Ensure adequate travel insurance which specifically covers mental health issues.
Medication, ensure adequate prescribed medication is available for the total duration of the trip; an additional 1-2 weeks should be carried for contingencies such as lost or stolen medication.
Medication should be carried in hand luggage in original containers, appropriately labelled. A doctors’ letter, or repeat prescription leaflet detailing all medication and dosages should be carried.
During Transit: Ensure travellers are aware of the potential detrimental effects of time zone changes on stress and adequately advised on lag.
Compliance with medication (for physical or mental health) must be maintained during journey to destination – coping with time zone changes and timing of medication should be discussed.
Maintaining adequate hydration and calorie intake while avoiding drugs and alcohol during travel will reduce travel stress.
To be continued next week
Dr Ade Alakija
Q-life Family Clinic