No one likes getting sick. Especially when they’re thousands of miles away from home and the people who care about them the most.
But most of the time, you can avoid getting sick overseas with a few very simple tips.
There are many things to prepare for when traveling overseas; inclement weather, airport delays, running out of space on your SD card (don’t forget to get your photos printed, prints which can be ordered online!).
But when it comes to preparing for possible sickness, instead of stocking up on medications to treat potential illnesses (ie the diarrhea meds, asprin, etc), why not aim for total prevention?!
There might be vaccinations, medications, and supplements these days to treat everything, but to actually avoid sickness overseas? Most of the time all that’s needed is the basics.
Something that most people have forgotten.
The Basics For Not Getting Sick While Traveling
Wash Your Hands
It sounds like the most basic and simple advice out there, and that’s because it is! This simple act will help keep you healthy while you’re abroad and keep all those horrible germs at bay.
Pro tip: When you’re travelling, you need to be washing your hands a lot more than you would at home (and with soap).Click To Tweet
Of course, you should wash your hands after using the toilet, but you should also wash them after handling money, and whenever you’ve touched anything grimy, like a handle or the rail on a bus seat.
In general, wash your hands before eating or drinking anything; a lot of the time it’s not necessarily you that’s the issue; it’s the other people around you.
Buffets in particular are a nightmare, which is why you hear of gastro outbreaks on cruise ships with thousands of people. This is less about the hygiene of the actual staff, and more about guests who don’t wash their hands after having used the bathroom, and then contaminate the food.
Hand washing facilities aren’t always going to be available everywhere you go, so we recommend you travel with an alcohol based hand sanitizer (make sure the bottle is less than 100 milliliters so you can take it onto the plane).
These are our favorites:
The main culprit of sickness when you’re abroad is food contamination. It’s the biggest cause of diarrhoea problems for travellers (we recommend Travelan which is a diarrhoea prevention), but if you exercise common sense, you should generally be ok.
In terms of food, shopping locally and cooking your own food is the best way to reduce risk of consuming infected food, but this isn’t always possible.
If you haven’t prepared the food yourself, you should only eat food that is cooked and served hot. Don’t eat anything served at room temperature, or looks raw or undercooked.
Bottled water is the best way to ensure that the water is safe to drink, and if you’re traveling in a country where the water is unsafe, you should avoid ice in your drinks, and not accept fruit or salad from local restaurants, as this has likely been washed under the tap.
You should also consider using bottled water to brush your teeth, keeping your mouth closed while showering, and not swimming in dodgy looking bodies of water that may be contaminated (like lakes). And if you’re heading to a buffet, you could take your own knife and fork if you really wanted to.
Of course travelling is all about the street food and trying new culinary experiences. However, don’t be afraid to “eat safe” once in a while. Eating at a recognised burger chain doesn’t mean you’re going to miss out.
Try easing yourself into new culinary delights easily, with some meals that your body is used to.
When you’re flying, the high elevations and low humidity typical of airplane travel have a dehydrating effect, which can provoke headaches, stomach problems, cramps, and fatigue, and diminish your immune system’s ability to fight off infections.
The simple solution? Stay hydrated by regularly sipping water before, during, and after your flight. Taking into consideration the above tips on avoiding water contamination of course.
Practice Sun Safety
Sun burn, sun stroke and dehydration can be enough to ruin your travel plans. Practicing sun safety while overseas is again, a very basic tip, but it’s one that people commonly abuse and forget.
Always make sure you’re safe in the sun by drinking plenty of water throughout the day, wearing a hat to protect your head, applying sun cream throughout the day and wearing sunglasses.
Cover up your skin where you can by wearing loose fitting clothing that breathes – like cotton. Don’t be afraid to shelter in the shade either, no one will judge you for not sitting out in the baking sun all day long!
And don’t think that you can’t get sunburn in the snow. UV radiation is reflected from light surfaces on the ground, and because snow reflects up to 80 percent of the UV light from the sun, it means you’re often being hit by the same rays twice.
I got quite severely sunburned in Antarctica in fact.
The above are basic tips for staying healthy overseas, though tips that people commonly forget to put into practice. Don’t want to get sick overseas? Stop packing medication to treat the problem, and avoid illness in the first place!