This past week I have been sick with the stomach flu, and thinking this is going to be the end of my life. The other thought that popped into my head was that I am so lucky to be in the comfort of my own home in my home country during this trying period of 24 hours from hell. So looking back at all my trips which were both solo, as part of a travel group, and with friends I have started to remember all those people who got sick during a trip including myself! However, when you come back from vacation, you do not remember the stomach ache you had the night before you had to hike to Macchu Picchu, or that sinus infection that just could not allow you to breath while in a luxury resort in Greece, or the time you got food poisoning in the middle of dinner in a winery in Spain. What you do remember are the sights, the experiences, the people you met, and of course above all, if you do forget, there is always great photographs to bring you back to that moment. Over the years, I have developed my own way of staying healthy while traveling and here are my tips. If you know of any other remedies, please share it in the comments section:
Prior To Departure:
1) Sleep & Rest– Get adequate sleep before you travel. I often found myself crawling into the airplane exhausted as I would have to make sure that everything at home was taken care of before I left and after working the full day at work (to save vacation days) I would enter the plane exhausted. This only led to lowering my immune system before I even got to the new destination.
2) Get Medical Travel Insurance – If you are not covered through your work, make sure you buy medical travel insurance to cover you in case you need to see a doctor or worst require hospitalization. This is a small expense that will come in handy should you need it (hopefully you do not) and will leave you with a piece of mind that you are covered.
3) Talk to a travel doctor– If you are going to a place with wildlife such as Africa or Brazil, you may need Malaria pills, Yellow Fever Vaccination and other vaccinations. Some countries, will deny entry if you do not present them with vaccination certifications. Also, they will be able to assist you in packing your medical bag.
4) Pack Medical Supplies- I always make sure that no matter where I am, I have my small medical supply handy at all times. In my case, this includes Tylenol (Fever/headache relief), Antiseptic Wipes(In case I fall), Gravol (I get Sea Sick/Car Sick easily), Anti-Biotics for Traveller’s Diarrhea (prescribed by travel doctor), other stomach over the counter medication and of course bandages. These are the basics however, make sure you take any personal medication with you that you may need.
1) Pay Attention to your food– I was shocked to see some tourists eating at local markets where the food handling included dirty hands, no refrigeration and wild animals running under their feet. It was enough to make me loose my appetite. Locals are used to this and therefore have developed immune systems to this. My western stomach however would make sure to let me know that this is not what I am used to. If travelling in third world countries, this means making sure that I only eat at places where I would feel comfortable with the sanitation level regardless of what type of place it is.
2) Water – In most countries (unless it is Italy), I prefer not to drink tap water for the simple reason that I do not want to take risks. In third world countries, this includes not eating salads, and other foods that could come in contact with the local water supply.
3) Sanitary Wipes – Always pack hand sanitizer not because you are afraid of germs but because not all places have soap or water for that matter. This also applies for toilet paper!
Simple rule to remember that every traveller should remember by heart is: If You Can’t Peel It, Boil It, Cook it, Forget It! Enjoy seeing the world, as there is nothing else worth doing!