Travel health myths

Planning on going on holiday? Check out these eight common health myths about travel - and the facts behind them…

1. If you avoid meat, you won’t get food poisoning.
Not true! The microbes that may make you ill can come from water and vegetables as much as meat. Foods to watch out for include: salads or any uncooked fruits & veg (unless you know they’ve been washed in safe water) and dairy products such as unpasteurised milk and cheese. Find out more tips on the NHS website.

2. A luxury resort will make you less likely to get ill.
Incorrect- a luxury resort can potentially have the same water supply and bugs as a cheaper one. No matter how much you paid for your hotel, you could still be at risk from mosquito bites so ensure that you take the recommended precautions to keep yourself safe. It’s also important, no matter where you are staying, that you arrange for adequate travel insurance before your trip so you can ensure that you are covered in case you do get ill.

3. Only dogs cause rabies.
Not true: rabies can be carried in the saliva of any mammal living on land. This includes cats and bats. You can become infected if the animal’s saliva enters your body through a bite, or if you are scratched by an animal which has licked its paws or claws. Find out more information about the symptoms and treatment of rabies.

4. You can’t contract malaria in the dry season.
This is incorrect. Mosquitoes do prefer the wet season, but can be found in both wet and dry seasons. The safest option is to take a course of malaria tablets regardless of whether it’s wet or dry and wear clothes that cover your body where possible (especially at night). Read more tips on how to avoid malaria.

5. Taking aspirin before travelling will prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Not true! Aspirin is used to prevent clots in arteries, however, DVT affects the veins and aspirin is not proven to be effective at preventing clots in veins. If you are travelling on a long journey ensure that you exercise your legs, feet and toes regularly by stretching them out and talking walks up and down the aisle when you are able to do so. For more information on travel-related DVT visit

6. I don’t have to tell my insurer about pre-existing conditions.
Incorrect. It’s important to tell insurers about any pre-existing conditions because this can affect your cover if you make a claim related to that condition. Pre-existing conditions can sometimes make it difficult to get health insurance but you can still find cover – for example, benenden travel insurance considers all medical conditions.

7. Street food is always unsafe.
Untrue. With street food, you can see where and how it is being prepared, and the food is often cooked in high heat ways such as stir-fries or deep fried, it will kill off most bugs. There is no guarantee that anywhere you eat will not give you an upset stomach – take a look at these tips to help you stay safe whilst on holiday.

8. Jet lag is caused by lack of sleep.
False! Jet lag is caused by interruption to your circadian rhythm (i.e. your body’s natural 24-hour routine). Your body is used to a regular routine and when you travel to a new time zone it will need to adapt to light and darkness being at different times of the day than normal. Find out more about cause of jet lag


If you're busy planning a holiday why not get a Benenden Travel Insurance quote. With cover from Benenden, you can set off on your holiday reassured you'll be in safe hands.


This article has been brought to you using public health information freely available online (click on links in the article for more information). benenden has not provided any direct medical advice within this article. Please consult the sources provided if you would like further information or support.

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