Your health is as important to your travels as the jet fuel powering the plane that takes you to your destination. Getting sick is no fun for anyone, but getting sick on a trip can turn a would-be amazing experience into exploring the many shades of misery. Health problems can pose a serious risk to your safety. In a foreign country, it might be problematic to navigate a different healthcare system in a foreign language. In developing countries, the level of care might be inferior to the standard of home. Actively thinking about how to stay healthy while traveling, exercising caution, and arming yourself with knowledge of what to do if you do get sick should be on the top of every traveler’s priority list. The following information comes from veteran travelers, doctors, and healthcare professionals. Adopt these practices and keep yourself healthy and alive.
Watch What You Eat
One of the number one ways to get sick while traveling is eating the wrong food. Avoiding street food is one tried and true way to avoid many potential instances of contamination. But for many travelers, including me, street food goes hand in hand with budget travel and cultural experience. Plus it’s delicious. For the very wary, it’s okay to pass on it completely, but it is possible to eat like the locals while still guarding your health against unnecessary risks. Food-poisoned customers are rarely repeat customers. Locals are just as keen on avoiding illness as you are. Many people ask the locals where they should eat instead of the subtle, but important distinction of asking, “Where do you eat?? When you ask a local where to eat, they will likely send you off to where they think a foreigner like you would like to dine. If you ask them where they like to eat, they will send you to one of their favorite spots.
Wash Fruit and Produce Correctly
Washing your purchased fruit and vegetables is par for the staying-healthy course. Fruits and vegetables are vectors for harmful bacteria and carry residue from fertilizers and pesticides. But washing them with contaminated tap water is futile. Many travelers and expatriates have adopted the “bleach method? of cleansing fruits and vegetables. Diluted properly, bleach can be used to clean fruit and vegetables without them carrying that chemical to your mouth.
Know the Health Risks of the Regions You are Traveling To
Of the utmost importance is to know what the health risks are of the places which you are traveling too and take the necessary precautions to minimize those risks.
Practice Safe Sex
What happens in Vegas may not stay in Vegas. Just because he/she says, “I never do this,? doesn’t mean that he/she has never “done it? before and become infected with something that you’d be wise to protect yourself against. In foreign lands away from routines, it can be easier to do things that you “never do.? But no one wants to come home with an ongoing medical concern with the potential to wreak havoc upon future dates. “Don’t be a fool! Wrap your tool!”
Learn How to Communicate your Allergies
As someone who is allergic to shellfish, I need to watch what I eat in order to be sure that the soup isn’t seasoned with anaphylactic shock. When in doubt, don’t eat it. Pack an EpiPen or at least a bottle of Benadryl. If learning how to communicate your food allergies in a foreign language is daunting, create a visual aid that communicates through photos your dietary restrictions. Sometimes you have to be pushy to fully communicate these restrictions, which may come across as incomprehensible to the locals. Strive to communicate your needs using local reference points. One way to avoid meats in Asia is to simply learn to communicate that you are a Buddhist.
Stay Healthy by Being Healthy
If you take daily vitamins back home, pack them on your trip. If regular exercise is part of your routine, find ways to get your heart rate up while traveling. If you’re hangover-prone, start each day with coconuts when available or Pedialyte or a sports drink. Healthy lifestyles lead to healthy people, and just because you are taking a vacation from home, does not mean you need to take a vacation from being healthy.
Give Yourself Time to Acclimatize to a New Environment
Time zone changes, sleep/wake cycle interruptions, altitude differences, and temperature variations can all be destruction forces to your health. Pay attention to how your body responds to changes. If you can, give yourself time to adjust to a new environment before descending down that river or hightailing it up that mountain.
Have a Plan in Place in Case You Do Get Sick
Knowing the health risks of a certain area goes beyond prevention—it is essential if you do get sick. Get at least a basic level of understanding of how the local healthcare system works, how your insurance works, and how to use it if you do get sick.