Advice for travelling in hot climates:
Travel tips from Dr Ruth Handford

Travelling to a hot or humid environment can be a shock to the system. It can take some time to adapt, but there are some steps you can take to make it a smoother transition.

Think about your journey

Make sure you dress appropriately when travelling. Arriving in a hot climate can be difficult to imagine when you are coming from a cooler one. Try to wear layers of light clothing so you can easily remove some when you arrive. Also, long flights can be dehydrating. Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol on long journeys, so you arrive at your destination well hydrated and better able to cope with the heat.

Take care in the sun

Remember to apply high SPF sun cream regularly – at least factor 30. You should use total sun block on any areas of damaged skin or on any moles that are exposed to the sun. Make sure you limit your exposure to the sun to 20-30 minutes maximum at a time, and even less between the hours of 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its hottest.

Medication and the sun

Some medications make your skin especially sensitive to the sun – these include some antibiotics, blood pressure medications, and some treatments used to prevent malaria. Make sure you check with your pharmacist or travel clinic before you travel.

Common medical problems in hot climates

Some medical conditions are more common in hot environments. Insect bites can more rapidly become infected in humid and warm environments. Mosquito bites can cause malaria in some areas, and it is vital you check before you travel to see whether there are recommended preventative measures.

It is sensible to sleep with a mosquito net in tropical areas, even if it is low risk for malaria. Plug in mosquito repellents can also be very welcome in the evenings. DEET based insect repellents are useful, but also take local advice about preventing mosquito bites naturally – lots of bars in tropical regions have lemons or limes on the bar to use on the skin as natural repellents.


It is VITAL that you have any immunisations that are recommended prior to travelling. Check what is advised on at least 8 weeks before you are due to depart.

Think about your existing medical conditions

Certain medical conditions may be exacerbated in the heat. Ankle swelling and breathlessness may be worse in humid environments. Take care to elevate your legs when you are able to if you find they are swelling up. Drinking more water will help to alleviate this.

If you are prone to urine infections, you may be more likely to get one if you become dehydrated, so try to avoid this. It may be worth asking your GP for some antibiotics to take with you, just in case.

Take care to prevent stomach bugs

Gastroenteritis infections thrive in warm environments. Drink bottled water and only eat well cooked meat and peelable fruits to try to minimise the risk of getting diarrhoea and vomiting.

About Dr Ruth Handford

Dr Ruth Handford is a GP with over 10 years' experience of working in both hospital and primary care. She is particularly interested in caring for the elderly in the community, child health, and family planning. Ruth lives and works in a rural community, and is kept very busy by her job and young family.

Important Information: These travel tips are intended to provide general information for those travelling to a hot climate and do not replace a visit to your doctor if you have existing medical conditions. If you are planning a holiday you should consult your doctor to ensure that you are fit to travel and discuss any specific health requirements you may have.

Travel Insurance for medical conditions

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office recommend that you have travel insurance in place every time you travel abroad. Make sure that your travel insurance covers any medical conditions you may have. is proud to be able to provide cover for all types of medical conditions.