As much as travelling is a lovely time for disconnection, we need to think of a few things before hitting the road and during our trip in order to keep our peace of mind when the unexpected shows up.
In terms of travel, prevent can mean many different things. Here’s a small survival guide for you to consider before every trip.
Before Departure: Prevent
1. Read about your destination and ask yourself several questions every time:
- What are the health risks for this particular destination? Specific disease risks such as malaria or other mosquito bites, Dengue, STDs, parasites and more.
- Are there any vaccination requirements?
- Is water drinkable or not?
- Is street food safe or not?
- Are there social risks? Are women safe if travelling solo around this destination?
- How’s general safety such as robberies, pick-pocketing, violence, drugs, street scams?
- What are the main numbers in emergency cases? Police, hospitals and emergency rooms, pharmacies availability.
- Should I buy a health insurance plan prior departure? The answer is always yes. Money you won’t regret in case needed. Having emergencies in foreign countries can be really overwhelming, confusing and even powerless. For a healthy state of peace of mind, get one before departure.
2. Go to your local travel medical centre in order to get required vaccines if needed and some more detailed health information.
3. Do you have a special health need to be considered before travelling?
- Are you pregnant? When does your next period is due? Be prepared.
- Are you travelling with a bone fracture?
- Are you celiac, lactose intolerant or do you have any other dietary restrictions?
- Do you take special medication or do you have a heart condition?
- All these facts are important to be shared when planning a trip, whether with you travel agent, airline or hotel staff, or any others before your trip. A bit of planning ahead will make things easier for you.
- Any arrangements should be made in advance if possible, such as asking for a wheel chair at airports, asking for special meals in allergy cases, or special requirements when travelling with kids or elderly people.
During the Trip: Be Smart and Protected
1. Always take these elements with you while exploring your selected destination:
- Sunscreen. Ideally above 30 PF, waterproof and with wide protection spectrum. Read more on sunburns and prevention. Also take a hat, cap or scarf. Sunburns can happen not just on the beach but also up in the mountains.
- Water. The forever essential in travels and life. Proper hydration is what keeps us going.
- Insect repellent. Avoid insect bites that could turn into a painful, even dangerous, experience.
- Make a small, light and basic first aid kit. Here’s a practical guide I created for you on how to make a good first aid kit for travel.
- If you have a health condition, make sure you have your required medication with you at all times.
- A vital information card is a smart thing to carry with you at all times as well.
- Comfortable shoes. Our poor and brave feet are the ones holding the entire weight of our bodies, including backpacks, food and souvenir bags.
- A small bottle of alcohol hand gel. As much as water and soap comes first, these tiny bottles come handy in order to prevent diseases too, specially before eating. You are never really aware on where your hands have been before taking a bite right to your mouth.
2. Stay safe while exploring your destination:
Make sure you learn about risky areas and neighbourhoods. Avoid them.
Water and street food. Avoid the obvious. Also, trust your senses on this one. They are your body’s armour and main protection tool within the world. They are wise and they know. If you suffer from a sensitive stomach, you better buy bottled water and avoid raw, uncooked or spicy foods. Same goes for children.
Avoid alcohol if travelling solo. It makes an easier target. Be careful, both men and women. And of course, don’t drink and drive!
Protect your body from possible injuries. Whether you’re travelling by car, motorcycle, bike or practicing adventure sports, always stay protected and wear the seatbelt, use protective gear accessories, helmet or any others. Even more if you’re travelling with kids. Teach them with good actions and enjoy the fun.
Show respect at all times. Many countries in the world have particular traditions very different from yours. Don’t intend yo have it your way. Showing respect is wise, nice and appreciated. It could even open amazing exploration doors and experiences for you.
If you are planning on getting involved in sexual activities, stay safe and use protection. No matter your personal taste on sexual and intimate matters, you should always be safe. And if you have a medical condition, avoid being a worldwide transmitter as well. Safe is smart, and smart prevents diseases.
If possible, try to learn a few basic words on the local language. You can even print some universal basic signs to have with you at all times in order to get help if needed. For example, a toilet sign, a restaurant sign for food and eateries or a bed for hotel and accommodation.
3. If you ever find yourself in an emergency situation during your trip, you have several options:
- Contact your insurance company for guidance.
- If it’s a serious emergency or a bleeding wound, attend a local health centre immediately.
- If it’s a mild situation in which you are doubtful on what to do, you can contact me or any medical relative in order to guide you through. Sometimes these tiny doubtful moments are the most important ones for making the right decisions. If you don’t have the knowledge, it’s both important and useful to get someone who knows better on difficult or doubtful moments.
After the Trip: Stay Alert
Sometimes, health conditions might appear days or weeks after taking a trip. It’s important to stay alert, be conscious and observe your body if anything unusual shows up within the next weeks after arrival.
Signs such as digestive trouble, unexplained fevers or headaches or skin reactions could be an alert of something going on.
It’s also important to hydrate and drink proper amounts of water after your trip. All the geographical changes no matter how small they are, will signify an impact in our body. In-flight air pressure or diverse exotic foods from afar destinations could makes us quite dehydrated as well.
In any case, always go to your local or trusted doctor for a medical check up after your trip.
Travel smart. Safe and happy travels!