All posts by Tim

Health Issues on the Road

Getting sick while at home is scary enough for most of us. Getting sick while travelling can be disastrous and is something a lot of people understandably fear, especially if they’re travelling alone.

Here are some suggestions to help be as prepared as possible.

– If you can buy out your travel insurance deductible, do so. For example, for some travel insurance you can reduce the deductive from $200 to $0 for a $25 fee per policy. This especially makes sense for long trips. You don’t want to feel inhibited to go to a doc by a high deductible.

– If you’re going to be staying a while at a destination then befriend other location independent/expat folks to learn about what the best clinics and hospitals are.

– Read your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what you’re meant to do if you need to claim e.g., calling for pre-approval. Make sure you understand the exclusions so you don’t get caught out, thinking you’re covered when you’re not.

– Keep some basic medical supplies. I often find that “mefix” dressings for burns come in handy, as do a big supply of cloth bandaids (rather than the plastic kind, which just come off if you get them wet). Also, handy is 1% hydrocortisone cream and some anti-histamines for bites.

– If you’re going somewhere where you’re worried about food poisoning then you might want some electrolyte sachets that will help you if you end up dehydrated from vomiting &/or diarrhoea.

– Prevention is better than cure. Take care to wash your hands before eating and after you’ve been out and about using public transportation. I sometimes carry hand sanitizer but only ever use it occasionally. Mostly I still like to carry it. However, I am religious about washing my hands once I arrive back at my hotel or apartment after being out for the day, and prior to eating.

– Vegetarian food is generally safer but some vegetarian foods like hummus can be very prone to making you sick if they’ve not been refrigerated correctly. Therefore always use common sense. Use your eyes and nose to ascertain if food looks like it has been prepared and stored hygienically. Look for the food stalls that are the most popular with locals.

– Some of my friends swear by drinking whiskey with all street food to kill any bugs, lol. (yeah, don’t trust these friends ;))

– Another form of prevention is a healthy diet or a multivitamin when you’re not able to be as awesome as you’d like to be with your diet.

– Familiarize yourself with whether it is safe to drink the local tap water or not. Sometimes I’ve forgotten to check this and then drunk it without thinking. Quite a few times I’ve accidentally brushed my teeth in tap water in locations where bottled water is recommended, and I’ve never had any issues as a result ( probably because I spit rather than swallow 🙂 )

– Take a first aid course before your trip, or just watch some youtube videos. You’ll really want to be able to help someone if you see someone choking or needing CPR. Chat to fellow travellers you meet and encourage folks to upskill themselves in these areas if they haven’t already – You or someone else might need assistance from a fellow traveller at some point.

Photo Credit: Ran Yaniv Hartstein under Creative Commons license.

Ideas for healthy convenient meals in Turkey

I am currently living in Turkey for a while, and I’m finding the food absolutely delicious here. It’s the Mediterranean way – cooking with delicious, fresh produce. You can eat healthily and heartily by either eating out or cooking from scratch yourself. Sometimes I just don’t have the energy or inclination to prepare a meal so it’s great that there are so many convenient and yummy options here for eating out or taking in.

Turkish food is all about fresh produce, which is why the weekly fruit and vegetable markets are always bustling and busy, with locals packing their cupboards with cheap and delicious tomatoes, cherries, potatoes, peaches, aubergines … the list is endless, and the cost is low.

Like me you might not have the time or facilities to become the best Turkish housewife or house-husband out there, so here are some ideas for cheap and healthy convenience meals whilst maintaining that fresh and delicious Turkish taste?

Head to a Turkish restaurant.
If you want the best flavours, a seriously fully belly, and a very low cost at the end of it, go to a Turkish restaurant that is away from a tourist resort, or at least away from the tourist resort main streets. Go where the locals head, and you’ll find you eat yourself into oblivion and you pay very little. BBQ’d, or ocakbasi-style, cooking of meats is the order of the day here, and you will find it cheaper to eat like this, than you would if you bought meat from the butchers and made something yourself. It’s also much less hassle!

This is my addiction, and ever since I moved here, I’ve had it for breakfast and even an evening meal several times a week. The plus point is that you can either eat out and grab it, or you can make it yourself very cheaply and easily. It’s basically scrambled eggs with peppers and tomatoes in oil. Throw in some fresh bread and it’s a taste sensation and a half, as well as being very filling.

Turkish pizza is much healthier than the pizzas you would find from a takeaway elsewhere. It’s not advisable to try and make this yourself, because it contains lamb, and lamb isn’t the cheapest thing in the world. You can get lahmacun from a takeaway for as little as 3tl, and when folded over with salad and lemon juice in the middle, it is delicious!

Chicken kebab.
If ever I’m hungry and want something quick and easy, I call at the nearest kebab shop and get myself a chicken wrap with salad for as little as 7tl. I’m full for hours afterwards and I know I’ve had several of my five a day. This isn’t the kind of kebab you associate with a greasy night out, it’s actually chicken donor meat, carved up in a tortilla style wrap, with salad and mayo if you choose. Yum!

Whether you make it yourself by grabbing some oil from the supermarket and some fresh veg from the market, or whether you buy it from a takeaway, soup is a very popular and filling meal in Turkey. Because of the fresh produce used to make it, it is often tastier than the tinned variety, and much more filling. Again, fresh bread in Turkey is delicious too, and very, very cheap.

A fresh diet is a healthier one, and you can easily find that on the cheap whilst travelling or living in Turkey.

Guest post by our friend Nicky.

Photo Credit: Paul Keller under Creative Commons license. Menemen

Why do it yourself?

Things you can easily pay someone else to do, whilst living in a low-cost country.

There is the saying that if you want something doing, do it yourself, but in some cases that’s just not needed. If you’re staying in a country where the cost of living is relatively low, you may find yourself with a little extra cash, to give yourself a slightly better standard of day to day life. Of course, you don’t want to splash the cash, but if it gives you more time to do other things, such as work, write, travel, sightsee etc, then why not?

I’m currently in Turkey and there is that culture of life here where you do pay others for many different household services, and this is how others make a living, and your life is made easier.

Here are four possible services you can outsource from your life, and into someone else’s.

Now, I do this because I haven’t got a washing machine in my apartment currently, and whilst I can hand-wash, and I do sometimes, it just doesn’t get everything as clean as I would like. For this reason, I pay a very nice lady to do my washing for me, and a very good job of it she does too. Whether you go to a laundrette, or you use a certain person for the job, just like I do, then it can often work out cheaper than the cost of electric, fabric detergent and softener, not to mention your time.

Same goes for this next option. Ironing is boring, don’t you find? I hate it, and in a hot country you don’t want to be stood over a hot iron, trying to get the creases out. I guess equally you don’t want to be walking around in creased clothes, looking like nobody owns you. You can easily find laundrettes who will charge you for your ironing, and they will be returned to you folded, pressed and neat. Again, you save on electric and time, not to mention the cost of an iron.

General cleaning services are things you can pay others to do for you. In a hot country, you’ll often find floors are the tiled kind, and I can’t believe how dirty they get on a day to day basis. Trying to keep on top of cleaning in places like this, whilst trying to actually have a life, and even work as well, can be borderline impossible. Cleaning services are popular in many different countries, so it’s a good idea to make use of them, freeing up your time.

Language services.
Now I put this one in, and I know it’s not household themed, but it has helped me and my daily life abroad. I mentioned earlier that I am living in Turkey, and I admit that other than a few words and phrases, before I arrived I was probably the world’s worst Turkish speaker. Because of that, and because I wanted to at least try and speak Turkish, considering I was living here, I hired a tutor to teach me the local language; it’s worked wonders. My tutor is English, but is fluent in Turkish and has been living here for years, so this helps me because she understands some of the difficulties I may have. You will find this kind of service in many different countries, and it will certainly help you in your living abroad endeavours.

If it makes your life easier, pays someone’s wages, and doesn’t cost the earth, why wouldn’t you pay someone to do something for you? Makes perfect sense to me!

Guest post by our friend Nicki.

Photo Credit: Wonderlane under Creative Commons license