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Authored by Rebecca Crawford

Tropical countries are appealing and magnificent, but they are also home to a bunch of eerie crawlies whose bites can cause big problems for travelers.

To make sure you return safe and in good health, here are a few basic tips on how to keep insects away.

How to Keep Insects Away When You’re Traveling in Tropical Countries

Mosquitos

The biggest threat to those who are into traveling to subtropical and tropical countries are definitely mosquito bites, especially in regions where malaria is a major concern.

Avoiding mosquito bites in such countries can be a tricky thing to do, but there are some easy steps you can to in order to keep malaria at bay:

How to Avoid Mosquito Bites

➠ Before you start your journey, visit a travel clinic or your doctor for antimalarial medicine. You should also keep in mind that, like all medications, antimalarials also have side effects and there are many types. There are various prophylaxis medicines on the market and each has their own side effects so read the instructions carefully. Recommended time to see your doctor or travel clinic is at least 6 to 8 weeks before you leave.

➠ Always apply insect repellent on top of your sunscreen not the other way around.

➠ Although it may be hot, wear long trousers, long sleeves and socks, especially in the evening when mosquitoes are on their crusade.

➠ When it’s time to sleep, install a mosquito net that has permethrin, impregnated. Rooms with air-conditioning is another great solution in minimizing mosquito bites. Most air-conditioned rooms are sealed and it’s less likely they will get into the room.

➠ Always use anti-mosquito plug-in devices and coils whenever it’s possible.

➠ If you’re into camping, skip on those activities in tropical countries. It’s a well-known fact that wetlands are the breeding ground of all mosquitoes

➠ Always spray yourself with the best mosquito repellent that contains at least 50% DEET. It’ll cost a little bit more, but is worth every penny. We suggest you do that on all exposed skin as well as your clothing. DEET can cause damage to some synthetic materials and fabrics so wear ordinary clothes, nothing expensive when you use it.

➠ If you suspect that you have contracted malaria, head straight to the hospital as soon as possible in order to receive treatment. Some of the malaria-infected symptoms are flu-like symptoms, like fever, tiredness, and diarrhea.

➠ Continue taking your antimalarial medicine even when you get home as it can still be in your bloodstream even for a year. Notify your doctor that you visited a country and keep an eye out for symptoms.

Pro Tip: Make sure your trousers cover or tuck into your shoes so you don't get bitten on the ankles!Click To Tweet

ECCO Womens BIOM Hike GTX

Spiders and Scorpions

Mosquitoes spread malaria, and you’re probably ready for that if you’re visiting a tropical country. But, what you also have to be careful of, are some scorpions and spiders that are poisonous and even the smallest “tick” might result in Lyme disease.

Don’t worry, many of the illnesses are treatable, but it’s best that you take all the precautions in order to avoid being bitten in the first place.

If you plan on going on a tour where you’ll have to walk through the bush, or tall grass, wear long trousers and closed toe shoes (forget about flip-flops when you’re visiting tropical country).

And if camping IS really your favorite activity, always check your sleeping bag (and shoes) for scorpions and spiders before you go to bed. You never know if these little dangerous thingies crawled into your bag when you weren’t in it. Keep your tent zipped up at all times, and keep your shoes inside overnight.

Symptoms from spider and scorpion bites can be various, but most often you’ll notice a red line and a sore on a place where you were bitten. Some can just cause mild skin irritation such as swelling or itching.

You can also experience flu-like symptoms like weakness, dizziness, fever, etc. If you suspect you have been bitten, head straight to the hospital.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs pop up all around the world, and aren’t limited to tropical countries. They are flat, reddish-brown, small insects and infestations have become more common in developed countries.

Although they don’t transmit any disease, some people have pretty strong allergic reactions to their bites, and they often try to follow you home in your suitcase which could cause financial and emotional stress.

In order to avoid exposure to these small crawlies, here are some prevention strategies you can take:

Prevention Strategies for Bed Bugs

➠  Never put your luggage on the bed. It’s what most people do when entering a hotel room, they put their suitcase on the bed before they start packing. But you should use the luggage rack, or a bathroom counter instead.

➠ Before you start unpacking, inspect every corner of the room for bed bugs signs. They may be small, but they’re not invisible. Take off all bed linens and check the edges of the box spring, mattress, chairs, sofa and bed head.

➠ If you notice anything that looks suspicious simply ask the hotel manager for another room or move to another hotel.

➠ If you’re unlucky and you get bitten, wash the bitten spot and treat it with an antiseptic cream. Try not to scratch the place as it can cause a secondary skin infection. If you can’t resist itching and it becomes pretty intense than take an antihistamine.

Ticks

Although not all ticks are bad and dangerous, some of them can spread some serious viral and bacterial diseases.

To protect yourself you should wear permethrin treated clothing, making sure your body is fully covered, and spray yourself with an insect repellent containing Picaridin or DEET (read more here if you want to find out more about such products and their qualities.)

When removing a tick, it’s important not to touch it with bare hands – you should always use tweezers. Grab it as close as possible, aiming to get it by the mouth that is embedded in your skin.

Never grab the tick around the body (the swollen part of the tick), and gently pull it until it lets go of your skin. After it’s out, you should wash the area where you were bitten (and your hands) with warm water and soap.

Rohan Anti-Insect Clothing With Insect Shield®

Megan Jerrard Traveler

Being that insects are the vectors for some pretty serious and even life-threatening diseases, keeping yourself protected is crucial – and Rohan clothing can form the first line of defence.

Rohan’s clothing for men and women incorporates Insect Shield® technology. This permethrin-based treatment is invisible, odourless and impairs the ability of insects including mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, fleas, chiggers and midges to land, and so reduces bites.

It’s extremely durable too – and is designed to last for the lifetime of the product. Offering proven, reliable repellency, Insect Shield® treated clothing should be a key part of your insect protection plan.

Pictured: Women’s Sanctuary Shirt in Cornish Blue Check – $95.00. Featuring the Insect Shield® treatment to deter tiny creatures and a UPF 40+ rating to help protect you from the sun.

Before You Travel

Before you travel, do thorough research on your destination in order to find out what insects might pose a threat as well as all insect-borne diseases.

Don’t let insects discourage you from visiting a country you always wanted to visit. It could stop you from seeing and experiencing some of the most stunning tropical places in the world.

FOR REPELLING MOSQUITOES. CLICK TO VIEW ON AMAZON ↓

Mosquito repellent Amazon

Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Insect Repellent

Mosquito repellent Amazon

Portable Mosquito Repeller

 Mosquito repellent Amazon

Bristol Mosquito Repeller Lantern

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Rebecca is a USA writer and hiker at hikingmastery.com. Her favorite hike to date is the Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal. While this hike usually takes 16 days, she likes to slow down, and enjoy the mountains and company of other adventurers, so it took her 28 days.

    35 Comments

  1. Oh, isn’t this what I need right now? I just moved to the South of Spain so as you can imagine…with a lot of heat, come a lot of weird bugs. Yucky! This is incredibly useful, thank you so much for putting this together for us. P.S. I’ve always been terrified of bed bugs so thanks for telling me how to prevent!

    • Glad Rebecca’s tips are helpful Cory – hope you’re having an awesome time in Spain! Let us know if you come across any insects which are truly insane :D!

  2. I always seem to get bitten these days. An old remedy for the prevention of mosquito bites is to take a vitamin B supplement 2 weeks before you go away. Mosquitos apparently don’t bite as they don’t like the smell. Obviously, I wouldn’t do this in areas where mosquitos can cause serious illness, but it could be used in conjunction with other remedies

    • Thanks for the tip on taking a vitamin B supplement – I haven’t tried that before, but will give it a go – mosquitos seem to love to feast on me too!

      Could definitely be used in conjunction with other remedies – I hate getting bitten so I’m happy to combine as many remedies as I can!

  3. These are really great tips! I never knew that you were supposed to put sunscreen on first! Often times my sunscreen is an afterthought so I put it on last. I won’t make that mistake again! This a great tool to read before heading back to SE Asia!

    • Glad the post was helpful Paige :) Yes, definitely put sunscreen on first, otherwise it’s not effective. Hopefully you’ll find that you’re now getting bitten less!

  4. Wow, this is super useful! Even if it makes my skin crawl to think how many times I get bitten… Thanks :)

    • Haha I tried to choose the photos in this post very carefully so to now make too many peoples skin crawl :D Glad the tips are helpful for you :)

  5. Good stuff Rebecca. We have stayed in some REALLY remote areas and also lived by a national park recently in Thailand a few months ago. I kicked these animals out of the house in Thailand:

    – 8 inch Scolopendra centipede
    – 5 inch scorpion
    – bird eating spider aka Thai tarantula

    So I had to get creative and be careful to deal with these guys.

    We also lived in a remote Costa Rican jungle a few years back. 3 hours away from humanity, with swarms of skeeters. Even thought it get stupid humid and really hot, we had to wear long pants and shirts in the morning and at dusk because when you live in a hut in a remote jungle, you will be eaten alive otherwise.

    • OMG bird eating spider!!! Crazy Ryan!

      You’ve definitely had your fair share of remote locations; I can relate with you on Costa Rica – we volunteered for 4 weeks in a hut in the jungle, and long clothes despite the humidity was definitely key. I remember waking up one morning and our group leader narrowly missed being bitten by a scorpion who had crawled into his shoes overnight. I shook my shoes before putting them on every time after that!!

  6. You’re right about the insect repellent strategies you have listed. The British who used to rule us believed that Gin and Tonic was a great way to keep away the mosquitos and drank themselves silly in the hope of combatting malaria ;). Citronella is a mosquito repellant and quinine( the base of tonic water) was used in treating malaria

    • Haha interesting to hear about the Gin and Tonic remedy – I hadn’t heard of that before!

  7. Just put 50% Deet spray on my Hawaii list, mosquitoes love me :/

    • Yes, something essential to travel with! Have a great time in Hawaii :)

  8. I think I can use these tips even when I’m not traveling, Florida always has mosquitoes! lol One thing that stuck out to me was applying the insect repellent on top of the sunscreen. I don’t think I’d ever really thought about the order. Great tips!

    • OMG I remember when we moved to Florida and summer hit – Holy crap the nats!!! But yes, mosquitoes were out in full force too – glad we could tip you off re the order – always sunscreen then repellent :D!

  9. This is a great and really helpful post. I feel it is a cool idea to research about the insects prevailing in that area before hitting the place. We had a tough time with mosquitoes at Sri Lanka and could only get rid of them after applying mosquito repellants.

    • I’m so glad to hear that Suruchi – definitely a good idea to run some prior research before you take off. Sorry to hear you had trouble with mosquitoes in Sri Lanka – but glad the repellent turned them off!

  10. I have to admit that I never thought about Scandinavian countries as being “tick paradise”. We just finished our 2-months long journey through Sweden and Finland. Oh boy, was I surprised! Every outing into the woods brought some unexpected “friends”. Truthfully, there were some posters on the walls around Sweden warning about ticks, but I never expected it to be this widespread issue. Luckily, all previous years of traveling kicked in, and I knew what to do. However, I wholeheartedly agree that doing research and learning about what kind of insects you might encounter and how to “deal” with them is a must.

    • Long pants, long pants, long pants! I’m glad you were warned in advance, but yes I think it’s one of those things you can’t truly appreciate until you experience it first hand. I’m glad you had previous experience to guide you :)

  11. I love this article! I need it! Unfortunately, insect repellants do not work for me. Especially mosquitoes! So I always end up covering myself.

  12. Mosquitoes love me. And they aren’t limited to tropical destinations. Italy has a horrible infestation of Asian Tiger Mosquitoes, which are super aggressive and active even in the daytime. We contended with them all the years we lived in Italy and they will bite right through your clothes.

    I also just learned about leech repelling socks, which I totally could have used trekking in Nepal. The altitude was too high for mosquitoes, but the leeches were super agressive there.

    • Me too! So weird how they seem to target certain people but others get off scot free! Thanks for the heads up re Italy – I don’t think I want to meet Asian Tiger Mosquitoes in a dark alley – sounds intense!!

      I hadn’t heard about leech repelling socks, though it’s definitely something I would purchase. Of all the insects out there leeches creep me out the most. Thanks for the tip!

  13. Thanks for sharing this kind of article. Been planning to go to the Philippines with my wife and kids. Keep up the great work!

    • Glad we could help Tristan – have a great trip :)

  14. Thanks for the great tips. It seems like this year we have more bugs then normal especially mosquitoes.

    • Glad you found the post helpful Chris :) Hopefully your new arrivals migrate somewhere else soon!

  15. When we travel, we need to take all precautionary actions to avoid these insects and all of the diseases that they bring. I appreciate this blog post for sharing the needed information for me to keep these insects away. Thank you. :)

    • Absolutely John – it can end quite harshly if you’re not careful! I’m glad that the blog post was informative and helpful for you :)

  16. That’s the post I should read for so long.
    I am very concerned about how to repel the mosquitoes when traveling in tropical countries. There are a huge number of mosquitoes in these places. So, maybe I really want to go there, I always feel scare to visit.

    • Glad we could help out with some tips for you Drake. You definitely shouldn’t be scared to visit these countries; following Rebecca’s tips and advice will help you stay protected :) Happy travels!

  17. Thanks for sharing this!

    • You’re welcome Bert, glad it was helpful :)

  18. There not insects, but Mint helps with spiders, speaking from experience. 😊

    • Interesting, thanks for the tip!

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