Holidays in the tropics

There are few things more exotic than heading off to a tropical island paradise. To make sure your trip is every bit as good as you hope, here are some tips to help you plan and enjoy the perfect break.

Getting ready for your holiday

Before you book your holiday it’s always a good idea to check the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website for the latest travel advice on the country you’re planning to visit. You can find out how safe the area is, if it is prone to bad weather conditions such as tropical storms, if there are any health issues you need to consider, what entry requirements and vaccinations you might need and other general safety advice.

Wherever you’re travelling to it’s a good idea to visit your GP at least 8 weeks before you go as this allows plenty of time to have any vaccinations you might need and to start a course of anti-malarial treatment if necessary.

Mosquitoes can be a serious problem in some hot countries. As well as delivering painful, itchy bites they can transmit diseases. But you can protect yourself against these. They’re also not the only insects you might need to watch out for; flies, spiders, snakes and scorpions can also be an issue. Our guide on mosquitoes, spiders and scorpions offers tips on how to avoid being bitten or stung by these creatures and what to do if you are.

A first aid kit can prove invaluable if you’re staying on a small island or somewhere remote. This could include insect repellent, antihistamine cream and other basic medical supplies. See our guide for ideas on what to take with you.

Travel insurance is essential as it can cost literally thousands of pounds if you need emergency medical treatment while you’re abroad. Make sure you take out a policy for the area you’re travelling to as some policies only provide cover in Europe rather than worldwide.

For more tips on preparing for a trip see our guide.

Making the most of the sun

While it’s lovely to relax in the sun, it’s important not to be out in it for too long. As well as using a good sunscreen to protect your skin you also need to wear appropriate clothing and sunglasses and to drink plenty of water. Our guide on sun safety offers tips on looking after yourself and children in the sun and what to do if you overheat or suffer from sunburn.

Keeping healthy

Food and water safety can also be an issue in the tropics. Always check if it’s okay to drink the tap water and if you’re in any doubt avoid it. Flies are common in hot countries so be wary of any food which has been allowed to stand at room temperature, such as an open buffet. And if the water is not safe to drink avoid uncooked foods that have been washed in it such as salads.

Tropical cyclones

Some of the most beautiful places on earth suffer from tropical cyclones, also known as hurricanes and typhoons. These usually occur at predictable times of the year in particular parts of the world so if you’ve checked out the area where you’re going to stay you shouldn’t get caught out by one of these.

But if a tropical storm is heading towards where you’re staying, you should follow the local advice on what to do and keep in touch with your travel or tour operator. For more information on tropical cyclones and what to do if you’re in the path of one see the government website Gov.uk.

Staying safe in your accommodation

Most people enjoy a perfectly safe and carefree holiday. Accidents are not common in hotels but it’s still a good idea to take in your surroundings and make sure you and everyone with you, particularly children, are aware of any potential hazards. These can include balconies, electrical appliances, glass doors and swimming pools. Our guides on hotel safety and self-catering holidays have more on this.

Swimming in the sea

On a hot day there are few things as refreshing as a dip in the sea. But before going in the water you should always check if it’s safe to swim there. If there are flags or signs on the beach make sure you know what they mean, find out when the tides are and if there are any creatures you need to watch out for such as jelly fish. Ideally you should only go on beaches where there is a lifeguard. For more tips on beach and sea safety see our guide.