From Bali Belly to a rotten flu; there are certain bugs that travellers are susceptible to and they can spoil a trip. Here are the eight golden rules to avoid falling ill.
1. Do your research and get vaccinated
It seems obvious enough but many travellers fail this basic rule of Travelling 101.
So let us spell it out now – DO YOUR RESEARCH AND GET THE NECESSARY VACCINATIONS.
This is especially important if you’re travelling to a tropical destination where water borne diseases such as dengue fever and typhoid are prevalent and mosquitoes are rife to help spread the malaria and yellow fever love.
It’s even more important if you know you’ll be travelling to remote areas where there’s limited medical assistance.
2. Drink bottled water
It’s important to stay hydrated when travelling, especially when on airplanes.
Dehydration not only makes you more vulnerable to invading bugs, but also makes it harder for you to recover from an infection.
It’s also important to keep the water up once you’ve arrived at your destination, but when you know tap water is poor quality, make sure you ALWAYS drink bottled water.
It doesn’t hurt to brush your teeth with bottled water too.
While locals might be able to stomach tap water, your own belly biome may not stand up so well to the local bacteria.
And don’t forget about those cheeky ice cubes in drinks. They’re generally made using tap water so again, if you know local water is a bit dicey, best ask to skip the ice with your cocktail.
3. Choose your restaurant wisely
When roaming the streets of a new city, it’s tempting to grab a bite to eat from a street vendor.
However, make sure the food is served hot, the cart looks hygienic and it’s relatively busy (the fewer customers, the longer the food has been sitting out).
In essence; street food = big gamble.
When choosing a restaurant, it’s a similar situation. Never go to a deserted eatery, go where the crowds are.
Busy restaurants generally mean a higher turnover so the food is fresher and safer (not to mention tastier).
If you’re somewhere where water quality isn’t high, avoid eating water-drenched foods such as watermelon or salads (they’ll be washed in tap water).
And remember to wash your fruit in bottled water!
4. Bring a first aid pack
It’s true that one day, despite all your preventative measures, you may catch a bug.
However, there are medications that can limit your illness to a 24-hour virus, rather than developing into a soul-destroying tell-my-family-I-love-them bathroom marathon.
Relying on your immune system alone won’t get you to the recovery finish line in a hurry, so make sure you pack a first aid pack of pharmaceutical magic, just in case.
– Pain relief medicine such as paracetamol or aspirin
– Antihistamines for bites, stings or allergies
– Cold and flu tablets
– Throat lozenges with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
– Multivitamins (more on this below)
– Antidiarrheal medication such as Imodium
– Antibiotic prescribed by your doctor for self-treatment of more severe cases
– Electrolyte replacement powder or tablets such as Hydralyte
– Antiseptic ointment such as Betadine
– Insect repellent
– Sunscreen (at least SPF 30+)
5. Don’t be stingy with the hand sanitiser
This stuff is liquid gold. Seriously.
This little pocket rocket of germ-killing goodness is a Godsend when it comes to questionable public restrooms.
It’s also handy in general when there are few soap-and-water opportunities such as when you’re hiking, on public transport, or when the kids have been running a muck in a playground.
It’s compact and it works instantly.
6. Stock up on vitamins
Staying healthy on your travels can begin before you even reach the airport by taking multivitamins and supplements such as Vitamin C and Echinacea to help keep your immune system strong.
Start taking them a few days before your departure and then continue to do so throughout your trip.
These little boosters will help your body fight against the new germs and bacteria that you’ll inevitably come in contact with on your travels.
It’s also worth packing some non-refrigerated probiotics (good bacteria), which help keep a happy stomach and can prevent constipation (come on, we’ve all been there).
7. Use nasal saline spray
This cheeky little travel tip works a treat.
Squirt some saline solution up your nose before boarding a flight to help keep your nose moist and prevent airborne bugs from entering your system. If it’s a long-haul journey, spray again mid-flight.
Nasal spray is also handy if you’re starting to feel a bit run down on your travels.
Spray at night before going to bed so the salt solution runs to the back of your throat, where nasty bugs that give you a cold may be busy multiplying.
The spray essentially helps kill the bad bugs and gives your good bacteria the upper hand.
8. Be kind to yourself
When in a new place, we can all be tempted to rush around trying see and do everything, party all night, then attempt do it all again the next day.
However, your body needs rest.
So when planning your itinerary, try to factor in a few hours every day to take it easy, relax and make sure you get enough sleep.
Insufficient rest puts extra stress on your immune system and as we all know, that little guy needs some extra TLC when travelling.