We travel to revitalize our mind and body, but it’s not without some downsides.
Travel takes us far away from our home and known environment. We are more active during our vacation, and the exertion lowers our immunity.
Illness can strike at any time and make your vacation a nightmare. The change of diet, sleep patterns, activity, and weather all combined can prove to be debilitating.
And nothing is worse than getting sick on vacation. Especially one you’ve been awaiting for so long.
So here’s how to avoid getting sick while traveling abroad.
How to Avoid Getting Sick While Traveling: 7 Steps to Follow
1. Carry a First-Aid Kit
A first-aid kit is a crucial part of your luggage. Keep it in your carryon for immediate access. Remember that the contents of the kit are not meant to replace the care of a medical professional. It is for immediate and temporary alleviation of symptoms.
Many first-aid kits are available off the shelf, but you could also put one together for very little expense.
The contents usually are:
- Adhesive dressings of various sizes.
- Compress dressings made from absorbent material.
- Adhesive cloth tape.
- Sterile gauze pads.
- Roller bandages of varying width.
- Scissors and tweezers.
- Antiseptic liquid.
- Burn cream.
- Sterile gloves.
You may add more items to the list, but these are bare essentials.
2. Carry a Medicine Kit
You cannot prevent medical emergencies abroad, but you can take steps so that you are not caught off-guard.
Aside from any prescription medications, a basic medicine kit should contain:
- An all-purpose nondrowsy antihistamine such as fexofenadine.
- An antiemetic to prevent vomiting such as ondansetron.
- Antidiarrhea medication.
- Simple painkillers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
- A painkiller gel and spray such as Voltaren.
- Eyedrops such as Bausch & LombDry Eye Environmental Lubricant eye drops.
If you wish, you can carry some basic antibiotics like ofloxacin and cefixime, but you have to be sure of the dosage and any symptoms.
Some prefer to carry a powerful old-fashioned antihistamine such as Benadryl. It not only provides relief from a bee sting and similar accidents, but also helps induce sleep.
We strongly advise that you consult your doctor before consuming any medication.
3. Monitor Blood Pressure
According to the CDC, at least 30 million Americans consume blood pressure medications.
Carry a blood pressure monitor that can help you keep tabs on your condition. If it worsens, you can always call your doctor and ask for advice.
A top-rated Omron device costs about $40 and is extremely light and sturdy. Remember, though, you have to calibrate it after purchase.
Many also carry along a small pulse oximeter. It is useful especially if you are trekking in high altitudes such as Ladakh in India. At 19,000 feet (5,800 meters), paucity of oxygen can be deadly. When you find your oxygen levels dropping, descend to lower altitudes immediately.
4. Prepare Against Jet Lag
If you want to stay healthy while traveling, then you cannot ignore the impacts of jet lag on your body.
Jet lag is an unfortunate side effect of modern air travel.
You set out for the airport at 7:00 P.M., can’t sleep on the plane, and arrive at your destination at 2:00 P.M., still a good seven hours away from your usual sleep time.
Because you cross time zones in a matter of hours, the natural circadian rhythm of your body gets upset.
There are many strategies to cope with jet lag. Starting a few days before the flight, shift your sleep time a little so that it is more aligned to your destination time zone.
Avoid blue LED light from cellphones and tablets while on a flight. Blue light keeps you awake, and it’s best to catch a nap while you are flying.
Some seasoned travelers prefer to consume melatonin-rich foods such as corn and broccoli. Keeping away from caffeine also helps.
5. Stay Cool
Western travelers love to relax on a sunny beach, but warm weather can be lethal for those new to it.
Most beaches are located in the hot and humid zone. The high temperature of 93°F (34°C) in summer might not sound like much until you factor in the 70-90% humidity. The real-feel temperature index climbs to well over 110°F (43°C).
If you are from a cooler climate, this can easily cause sunstroke. If you are from somewhere that experiences hot summers, you will be more likely to cope better. Florida residents might even feel at home.
Heat is easier to deal with. You stay in the shade, and turn on a fan or the air conditioning.
Humidity is a different beast altogether. The sweat refuses to dry, and you cook from the inside.
What are the precautions to take as a tourist?
Stay out of the sun, and restrict your trips to early morning or evening. Keep hydrated, and try to stay underneath a ceiling fan.
Do not transit between an air-conditioned lounge and the outdoor heat too many times. Temperature transitions lower immunity and aggravate coughs and colds.
6. Consume Probiotics
The importance of probiotics cannot be overstressed. Probiotic foods contain good bacteria, like lactobacillus acidophilus, saccharomyces boulardii, and bifidobacterium bifidum.
These help the process of digestion and in preventing diarrhea.
Diarrhea can be caused by a pathogen that has entered the body through food and water. Contaminated food can be a genuine concern.
Diarrhea can kill. At the very least, you may have to be hospitalized and pumped full of saline and antibiotics.
Your defense against these pathogens is far less than someone who has lived there for years.
The way to combat this is to consume lots of probiotics. Start eating some yogurt, kimchi, and kefir about two weeks before the trip. While you are on vacation, have curd if possible. Otherwise, carry probiotic capsules, and drink bottled water only.
7. Avoid Strain
Sudden physical activity causes aches and pains. If you insist on continuing, it might result in a ligament tear or joint injury.
After a sedentary year in the office, you suddenly decide to hike six miles through the Greek countryside. How do you think your body would react?
Jet lag, coupled with a change of environment, topped off by strain can be a deadly cocktail.
Avoid Risk, Get Health Insurance Before You Leave
But what to do if you get sick while traveling anyways?
If you fall ill in a foreign country, the situation is challenging to say the least. Most nations do not have free public healthcare, and medical care abroad can be expensive.
You will have to pay premium prices to be treated at private hospitals for any travel medical emergency.
Moreover, you might require evacuation. That can prove to be an expensive proposition.
Visit the website, choose the policy that meets your needs, and buy with a click. It’s that simple to be safe abroad.
Why is international insurance important? Cost. When you’re in another country, your domestic health insurance is unlikely to provide sufficient coverage, if it provides any coverage at all. If you get sick or injured unexpectedly and require medical treatment, the cost will have to be borne entirely by you. This could set you back hundreds, or thousands. Travel medical insurance can act as a financial safety net in these situations, allowing you to have coverage for emergency medical treatment in a country where you otherwise would not.
We’ve given you all the basics on how to avoid getting sick while traveling. But, it is better to be prepared for all situations when you are several thousand miles away from home than to be surprised.
Have fun and relax out there, but at all times keep in mind the importance of your health and safety.
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