How to stay well when you’re on holiday

Mablethorpe North end. Woman and two children walking to the beach

Photo credit: East Lindsey District Council.

With the Bank Holiday weekend and half-term approaching many families are planning to have a break in one of the UK’s holiday hotspots or to stay with family or friends in another part of the country.

Happily, most holidays go to plan, but it’s worth knowing what to do if one of your group falls ill whilst you are away.

Planning ahead is the best way to avoid holiday health hassles, so remember to order any repeat prescriptions you will need before you go.  You can do this online if you’re signed up for GP online services.  If not, contact your GP practices for more information.

If one of you does develop a minor illness, or have a bump or scrape during the break, it’s quick and easy to get medical advice at the local pharmacy. You can ask to speak to the pharmacist.  They have professional training and will be able to recommend over-the-counter medicines for many minor conditions.  They can also advise if they think you need to see another healthcare professional.  It is usually possible to arrange a consultation with the pharmacist in a separate room if you need privacy.

Pharmacies may also be able to offer treatment and some prescription medicine for some conditions, without you needing to see a GP (this is called Pharmacy First). Conditions they can treat as part of Pharmacy First are:

  • earache (aged 1 to 17 years)
  • impetigo (aged 1 year and over)
  • infected insect bites (aged 1 year and over)
  • shingles (aged 18 years and over)
  • sinusitis (aged 12 years and over)
  • sore throat (aged 5 years and over)
  • urinary tract infections or UTIs (women aged 16 to 64 years)

If you go to a pharmacy with one of these conditions, the pharmacist will offer you advice, treatment or refer you to a GP or other healthcare professional if needed.

They will then update your GP health record.

If you are not within these age ranges, a pharmacist can still offer advice, but you may need to see a GP for treatment.

To find the nearest pharmacy with a list of opening times just search at find a pharmacy – NHS (

If it’s urgent but not an emergency contact NHS 111 online or call NHS 111.  The highly trained staff will tell you the best course of action based on the symptoms and services open in the area.

If you do need to see a GP when staying away from home, you should contact your own GP practice in the first instance. 

And finally, to increase your chances of enjoying your holiday rather than rushing around the shops, make sure you pack a first aid kit.  Once again has all the information you need about what to include.