When it comes to traveling, we have always been vigilant when it comes to taking health and safety seriously during our travels and making sure we have the proper coverage, medicines, and information before we leave the country.
1. Do your research
When traveling to a foreign country, it’s important to do your research and know the risks before you go. What contagious diseases are easily transmitted through mosquitoes, water, or unsanitary conditions? What type of climate will you be in? Will there be a risk of heat stroke or sunburn? Will you be flying into a high elevation creating a risk for altitude sickness? Will hypothermia be a problem if you are traveling to a cold. Are there poisonous animals to keep an eye out for and if you come into contact with them, how do you safeguard yourself? There are many questions to ask yourself before traveling. You can check warnings and advisories with your country’s government website, visit the tourism board of the country you are visiting and check out blogs or even social media for up to date information. Asking your favourite travel blogger a question about the country you are visiting on Twitter or Facebook, generally gets a response.
2. Vaccines and medications
When traveling abroad it’s good to know what vaccines will protect you from disease. Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid Fever, Yellow Fever, Cholera and Travellers’ Diarrhea are all the top vaccines for any travel to South America or Asia.
Tip: Visit a medical clinic before travelling: If you visit a travel medical clinic before your trip, your doctor will be able to give you the proper injections, and prescribe the medicine that you will need in case of an emergency. Malaria medication, antibiotics and medicated creams are very important to have on hand. Make sure to visit a couple of months in advance, some vaccines require multiple injections and you will have to go back more than once.
3. Stock your first aid kit
Don’t go crazy and carry everything for every situation with you, but do have staple items like anti-diarrheal medication, antihistamine, anti-motion sickness medication, pain relievers, laxative, antacid, anti-bacterial ointment, hand sanitizer, Band-aids, aloe gel for sunburns, Moleskin for blisters, and oral rehydration salts to help recover from vomiting or dehydration.
4. Mosquitos and Disease
When it comes to Dengue Fever and Malaria (mosquito born diseases) cover up. Often times insect repellent doesn’t work, but being covered from head to toe makes all the difference. You can also carry a mosquito net of your own, they are portable and easy to use. Bring your own and you’ll have a mosquito free night. On another note, it is still advisable to bring and use insect repellant, just don’t completely rely on it. Staying covered up helps a lot.
5. Heat and Sun
When out in the hot sun, we wear a hat and cover up under lightweight clothing. I prefer long shirts and sarongs more than slathering on sunscreen every hour. Be careful not to stay out too long. So many people land in the tropics directly from winter weather and sit outside for hours on end ruining their vacation. Sit under an umbrella or cover up. Fabrics these days are so light and comfortable it feels good being in the sun with long sleeves on. Also, make sure to stay hydrated. When it’s hot, you lose a lot of water from sweat and you may not notice you are dehydrated. This can cause heat stroke and be very serious. On a side note, be careful not to over-hydrate. If you sweat a lot, drink liquids containing electrolytes like Gatorade. This will keep you hydrated while giving your system the nutrients it needs.
And on the note of dehydration be careful when it comes to water. Hot drinks are a good choice. Or go for sealed bottled drinks and cans. Also instead of constantly using plastic bottles and being wasteful, bring a portable water filtration system with you. They’ve come a long way baby, and you can filter any water from lakes and rivers to city water faucets. It helps you feel better about the environment while taking care of yourself. When in situations where you can’t filter water or buy bottled water, purification tablets work. They work well and if you let it sit long enough, you don’t even taste the chemical process. If you do taste it, a little powdered juice will take make it taste great.
When in doubt, if it isn’t boiled, baked or peeled don’t eat it. Salads can be oh so delicious in hot climates, but unwashed lettuce or lettuce washed in contaminated water will make you sick. Stick to fruit that can be peeled like bananas, oranges and mangos and if you choose to eat street food, make sure it is cooked properly.
DnD Tip: When choosing a place to eat, look for eateries that are packed with local people. Chances are good that the food will be fresh. Because of the high turnover, they’ll be constantly cooking that food, and because the locals are eating there, you can bet it’s authentic and affordable.
8. Jet Lag
Everyone is always asking about how we combat jet lag. When you only have a week or two for your vacation, the last thing you want to feel is exhausted for 3 or 4 days of your trip! Jet lag is a tough one as it’s almost impossible to beat completely. But there are ways to ease into the time zone that you are flying to. Switch to local time on your phone on the plane. Do this before you even arrive at your destination then you’ll already be thinking in the time you are going to. Try to stay up as late as you can. Don’t be tempted to go to sleep at 5:00 pm. If you arrive early in the day then you may have a nap but only for an hour or so. Just enough so you don’t feel like a train wreck. Go outside, feel the fresh air and sunlight and walk around. You’ll feel better, honestly. Avoid alcohol. Instead drink plenty of water or juice to stay hydrated. Try to sleep on the flight.
9. Don’t be foolish
I cannot tell you how many times we’ve watched tourist be stupid during their travels. Why do people suddenly think they are invincible just because they are on vacation? Act on vacation as you would at home. When renting motorcycles or bicycles, wear helmets. It may be hot in your destination, but if you are riding a motorcycle, at least wear jeans and a long sleeve thick shirt. Road burn can be serious if you wipe out. Don’t over drink and party to the wee hours of the morning. That’s when people get themselves in trouble. And please wear your seatbelt. How many people have seen a pack of tourists driving around in an open top jeep standing up and laughing and thinking that nothing will happen to them? Wear the usual protective gear that you always would and keep a level head on your shoulders.
Even if you are not a die hard adventurer, you can easily find yourself in high altitude destinations regularly. Places like Machu Picchu and many ski resorts are at high elevations. Often you’ll fly directly into them from sea level. You are going to feel the effects. If you are going to be at altitude, ask your doctor to prescribe altitude sickness medication like Diamox. It helps to ease the symptoms. In high-altitude destinations, it is important to acclimatize and take your time. Don’t over-exert, keep hydrated and stay warm. If you find yourself really suffering, go down to a lower elevation for a day or two.
As more people are travelling the world, it’s important to stay informed and be prepared. Travel is a lot of fun and you should never worry or be afraid to leave home, but if you follow these tips for staying healthy, you will feel a lot more comfortable and ready to face any situation.