Backpacker passed out on the beach

5 Ways to Avoid Getting Ill When Travelling

Unfortunately travelling to far flung destinations can often bring with it some kind of illness. The nature of travelling means that we are being exposed to many different bugs that our immune systems are not used to. Our bodies are normally better awesome at dealing with the various bugs and germs however when you expose it a new variant it can cause your immune system to go into overdrive.

Apart from travelling in a bio hazard suit what can you do to prevent illness spoiling your vacation?

1) Water of life

The first tip is to stay clear of the local water. This shouldn’t be a revelation to a seasoned traveller but to new travellers this tip alone should help you avoid a nasty stomach bug. Essentially there is nothing wrong with the water supply in many countries it is just the simple fact that you immune system is not used to it. Water can contain many bugs that can give you diarrhoea, this in normally only a short term effect. Your immune system quickly adapts and is able to deal with these ‘new’ bugs.  This matters little when the first week of your vacation is spend on the toilet.

How to avoid the local water

It is easy enough to avoid using tap water by buying bottled water; most people can work that out for themselves. Well I hope they can. It is the ‘hidden’ ways you can accidentally expose yourself to the dreaded bugs in the water.

Ice cubes – these are going to be made with tap water so don’t have them in you drinks.

Fruit especially water melon – Especially is bought from the beach as they are often injected with tap water to make them appear juicier.

2) Basic hygiene

It feels wrong having to remind people to do this, wash your hands after going to the toilet. So many people think this is unnecessary and but it is not. These who don’t do it regularly are filthy and should be publically shamed. Alas I won’t get my wish so you need to do your best to protect yourself from germs and bacteria.

In an area that sees lots of travellers pass through, i.e. the airport, and then it is safe to say that you will find a lot of bugs hanging out there. It is easy to pick up germs from someone jus by touching a surface they have previously touched. It is so easy to transfer germs into your system just by doing things like rubbing your eyes and touching your mouth, something you do all the time without thinking about it. So whenever you can, wash your hands and consider using a hand gel to kill bacteria.

3) Vaccinations

When travelling somewhere new either check online or go to your doctor and find out about immunisation. In the past when travelling with friends and have been astonished to find out that people have decided not to get immunised. There reason is that the malaria vaccination doesn’t agree with them. Well I am can you for a fact that getting malaria will agree with you even less. I have even been with people who have not taken the vaccination because they would need to remember to take a pill each day. This is far too great a task to remember!

Vaccinations are very important don’t decide you know more about than a medical professional, take them is you are advised to.

4) Chill at the beginning of your break

The idea of a vacation is to get a way from the rat race and get some rest. Some travellers forget this and fill their breaks with trying to do us much as physically possible. In doing so they get all stressed out and instead of recharging their batteries run themselves down. When you are run down you are more susceptible to becoming ill as your immune system is often weakened. So spend the first couple of day of your trip getting over any jet lag and generally just lazing about.

5) Sunburn

Some countries are better than others at having educated people on the dangers of the sun. There still many people with the attitude that sun block is for pasty white losers. Well I am normally very careful being from the ginger genes but I have been stupid on a couple of occasion which have resulted in a lot of pain and discomfort. Basically I fell asleep in the shade, the sun moved and my lower legs were exposed to the sun for too long, I was badly burnt and walking for the next week was uncomfortable.

Since that day I have used all day sun block, and put it on before arriving at the beach. All day stuff is great for kids as it doesn’t get in the way of them having fun.

Basically don’t think you have some kind of magic skin that is immune from skin cancer because you don’t grow up and use sun protection.

Travel Gear Checklist:

Anti-Diarrhea Pills (Ciprofloxacin)
Anti-Nausea Medication (Dimenhydrinate)
Eye Drops
Insect Repellent with DEET
Mosquito Netting
Painkillers – Ibuprofen or Paracetamol
Prescription Medication

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  • Joanne Mefford Says

    I have chronic migraines and get them about 2 times a month like clock work, but somehow when I am backpacking travelling for long periods, I don’t get them at all. I have no idea how!

  • Louisa Ellman Says

    I love hostels when backpacking, but they suck when your really sick.

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