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How do pilgrims protect their health?

Followers of many major religions travel to holy places to fulfil obligations or for spiritual reasons. Like most travellers, pilgrims should take a few steps – including appropriate vaccinations – to protect their health while on their journey.

Islamic pilgrimage

Worshippers from around the world assemble in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, each year for Hajj. Another important site in Saudi Arabia is the city of Madinah (or Medina). The third most holy site in Islam is Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, Israel.

If you are travelling for Hajj pilgrimage you will need a certificate proving that you have been vaccinated against meningococcal meningitis. Global Travel Clinics can provide this: let your healthcare advisor know about your plans.

We offer a popular Umrah Travel Vaccinations Package, and a Hajj Travel Vaccinations Package at competitive prices. Book a consultation with one of our nurses today to determine your individual requirements for your pilgrimage this year.

Christian pilgrimage

Many Christians journey to Israel to experience the landscapes where the incidents described in the New Testament played out.

Buddhist pilgrimages

Buddhists may wish to travel to places with links to the life of Buddha. Sites of importance to Buddhists in India include Bodh Gaya, Sainath and Kasahara; sites in Nepal include Lumbini.

Judaic pilgrimages

Followers of Judaism may travel to Israel. The Western Wall of Jerusalem, known as the Wailing Wall, is a significant site and there are numerous other sites of pilgrimage throughout Israel, too.

Hindu pilgrimages

Pilgrimage is a significant part of the Hindu religion, and members of the faith gravitate to sites throughout India. Vast festivals, such as the Kumbha Mela are also important.

Protect your health

The first step to good health on a pilgrimage is to make an appointment with a travel health adviser. A specialist nurse can give you all the advice you need as well as administering travel vaccines for overseas travel.

Your immune system can take a hammering during travel. The effects of jet lag, lack of sleep and an unfamiliar environment can make you vulnerable to infections.

If your pilgrimage involves walking or any strenuous activity, this can make you fatigued, which also has an impact on your health. If you do no exercise at home, you should consider building up gradually before you go. The use of remedies for muscular pain and blisters will make you more likely to complete the pilgrimage requirements.

Pilgrims should observe all the usual travellers’ precautions around food and water.

Outbreaks of contagious diseases are more likely to occur during festivals and gatherings, so it is easy to pick up a cold, flu or respiratory infection. Observe good cough and cold etiquette by covering sneezes with your elbow. Wash your hands frequently, too. Consider carrying hand sanitiser with you.  

If you are travelling for a large gathering such as Hajj or the Kumbha Mela, be aware that it can be difficult to access healthcare if you need it. Make a plan for getting health advice and bring a set of basic medicines such as acetaminophen and anything you need to treat the symptoms of a cold. You should also bring a full supply of any medicine you take for a long-term condition.

Travel well, and come home safely, pilgrims!