My fortune has been rampant when it comes to travel – especially because I’ve never truly gotten sick abroad. Of course some of that has to do with luck, but I like to think I’ve done some preparation and taken heed to ensure my health while in new places worldwide. I don’t go too crazy, but I always have some basic first aid, medications and information on hand no matter where I go. There’s nothing like being in Taiwan with a raging headache and not know where to get aspirin, or finding yourself sick with food poisoning on a Caribbean island without knowing what triggered it.
Embrace Local Foodie Finds, but Be Smart
My brother, despite warnings, thought his immune system would protect him on his trip to India. After only a day or two of snacking on street treats, he had fallen extremely sick. Even someone who has been to many diverse countries can easily get downtrodden.
If you’re heading to an unknown destination, slowly introduce new food, alcohol and anything else you might be consuming you’re unfamiliar with. Although those deep-fried octopus balls are delicious, have just one first and see how your body react. Food might be contaminated – but it could be something you’re simply allergic to and wasn’t aware of until now.
Know Key Phrases and Locations
It may seem excessive, but I try to make a rough note of where the nearest hospital is when I check into my hotel. It’s one less thing to worry about if I’m feeling under the weather and need to seek medical care. Knowing phrases such as ‘help’ and ‘please’ are also key when trying to convey an emergency. Bring a physical business card with you of your hotel address too – if you need to go back quickly, you’ll have it on hand to inform taxi drivers, or to even hand to medical personnel at the hospital.
Bring Medical Aid
I want to know where a pharmacy is, as many countries have great over-the-counter solutions to various situations. Or, I simply pack my own small arsenal of mild painkillers, allergy meds, flu pills and natural sleeping aids. My British friends sometimes poke fun at me and say it’s an ‘American’ thing to have so many medications, but nobody’s laughing when they’re sick and need them from me while on a trip!
Always Have Backup
Most of the time, you can’t help getting ill on the road. Even the best travellers find themselves sick at inopportune times. The worst is when you’ve planned a whole vacation and are stuck on an island somewhere with an annoying (or serious) setback. It’s well worth investing in some protection pre-travel. Then if anything goes awry you can call on holiday sickness claims to be compensated for the lost experiences. What’s amazing is that in the UK, you’re covered under a special act that can help you in certain situations, even without travel insurance. Look up your country’s legal police and be ready for anything.
Have you been sick on a trip or on vacation? What did you do? What do you carry with you to prevent illness? Here’s a few extra tips for staying well on the road.