This blog returns to the horse-riding holiday preparation theme and the topic of your health. Horse-riding holidays are incredible and can take you to amazing places. So, don’t let a few minor oversights ruin a trip that should give you nothing but happy memories.
As soon as you’ve paid your deposit and your place on a horse-riding holiday is confirmed get travel insurance. Most travel insurance policies will cover holiday and flight cancellations, so it is recommended to get the policy before you book your flights. Travel insurance is not expensive if you shop around. For UK residents, the first place I look is on the Money Saving Expert website. The Money Saving Expert team do all the hard work for you and list the travel insurance providers who are offering the best deals / lowest cost insurance at the current time. The essential advice here is to make sure you get cover for horse riding/horseback riding and any other activities that you plan to do while you are away. For example, for my next horse-riding holiday to Canada, I will be horse riding, and canoeing so I have included both of these additions on my policy. Travel insurance is essential for emergencies and peace of mind. As I said, shop around and make sure there is the cover for all holiday activities.
For those of you who have read my previous blog Horse Riding Holiday Preparation – Research your Destination, you will have been advised to search for the recommended vaccinations that you should have/get for your chosen horse-riding holiday destination. For UK residents there are some useful links on the travel information links webpage on this website (other nationalities can use these links as a guide; however, you should refer to your own countries equivalent advice). The principal link is the Fit for Travel link that takes you to the NHS site. Here you select the country you are travelling to and check your current vaccination record against the list for that country. If you need a new vaccination or a previous vaccination is out of date, you will need to print the list off and take it with you when you go to get your vaccinations. Always, keep a record of what vaccinations you currently have. I have a handy card record that slots into the front of my passport for when I travel. If I do have an accident and cannot communicate with doctors, they will be able to see this record of what vaccinations are up to date.
When you’re in full preparation mode getting ready to jet off on your horse-riding holiday one of the last things you may consider is what items do you need to take with you to keep healthy. As we all know, luggage restrictions factor into any flight plans, and if packhorses are going to carry the luggage while you are away, this will reduce that weight limit down further. So, what is the minimal amount of first aid items you should consider taking on your horse-riding holiday?
I have a handy go-to packing list that I keep to ensure I take all the tried-and-tested essentials which I need to pack. The never leave home without-it list includes:
Packing water purifying tablets is essential for many reasons. Again, for those of you who have read my previous blog Horse Riding Holiday Preparation – Research your Destination, you may have been advised on the Government/country guide websites that tap water is not safe to drink at your destination, and that you should use water purifying tablets and boil water before consumption. That said, even if a country states it has safe to drink tap water, I still pack water purifying tablets, again it is better to have the water purifying tablets and not use them than getting caught out at a dodgy water source that might have you reaching for those diarrhoea tablets or worse. Then there are moral reasons. Yes, pure water is safe to drink and always readily available to buy in plastic bottles. I admit I need to get better at swapping my plastic-bottled water for water that has been purified by tablets as it is a much more sustainable way to travel and reduces plastic, processing, and transportation output. For my last trip to Arizona horseback riding, I bought two collapsible water bottles that roll up for packing and can get refilled. Next time I travel to a country where it is recommended not to drink tap water, I will be able to use the water purifying tablets in these collapsible bottles.
SPF sunblock and SPF lip balm are a must-pack item for any horse-riding holiday. Even if you don’t ordinarily use sunblock, pack it. For most of us a horse-riding holiday will mean many hours in the saddle, and most likely during the hottest part of the day. I have known riders get caught out by wide-brimmed hats as the sun journeys downwards at the end of the day and catches their face. Before a ride, I will cover any uncovered areas of skin with SPF 50, and I always carry a small tube of SPF50 with me so I can reapply as I ride or during a scheduled stop. I also carry a high SPF lip balm with me on the ride that I can apply at any time. Wind, dust, heat, and sweat can all dry lips in an instance and on some rides reapplying the SPF lip balm can be a regular thing. Because I take precautions, I have never suffered from sunburn while, I’ve been on holiday. However, I do know from people who have that it is not pleasant and in severe cases, it can lessen your enjoyment of your time away.
The recommendations above are from my own experience of horse-riding holidays. The first four horse riding holidays that I went on features in my non-fiction travel book, The Horse Riding Tourist – Near and Far, which describes my trips to Iceland, Egypt, Great Britain, and Mallorca. For more information click here.