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.

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