Arrrrrffff, my escapaders! Let’s talk more about healthy travel. One thing that can easily ruin your travel plans is getting sick. I HATE getting sick! Well, who doesn’t? Yet being sick on your dream vacation (or any trip) is even more deplorable; imagine all the time and money that went into planning your 3-week honeymoon trip to the Greek Islands and now you’re stuck in your hotel room with the horrific flu? Being healthy while traveling is imperative to having a good time. Yes, healthy travel equates to happy travel. But, nevertheless, we all know that getting sick is sometimes inevitable, regardless of where you are. Unexpected circumstances related to your health can end every ounce of fun that you were having instantaneously. In order to prepare to battle sickness abroad, I am sharing with you my own list of 8 MUST-HAVES for healthy travel:
#1 Must-Have for Healthy Travel: Travel Insurance
For years, I traveled abroad without any type of insurance. Now I realized how “un-smart” I was! Healthy travel is prepared travel. Preparing for unforeseen events (beyond sickness) is crucial. What if a motorbike runs me over as I try to cross the busy streets of Hanoi? What if I can’t adjust to the high altitude in Cusco? What if I get food poisoning from Guangzhou street food? What if I injure myself during white river rafting in the Balsa River? Seriously, ANYTHING can happen! Of course, we don’t want to be pessimistic, but we should always be prepared. Many think that travel insurance is unnecessary, but TRUST ME – you’ll be glad to be insured if any unfortunate event arises. No one wants a big FAT bill from a 3-hour hospital visit for IV. Protect yourself! You’re paying for a peace of mind and the little money spent is well worth it. It’s comforting to know that I can see a dentist in London if I ever break my front tooth. There are many travel insurance carriers out there, but I use World Nomads whenever I travel internationally; they cover emergency accidents and sickness, emergency evacuation, trip delays/cancellations, and even stolen belongings among many others. They offer 2 plans: Standard and Explorer (Explorer has higher limits and Collision Damage Waiver). My friend, who submitted a claim for his stolen laptop in Bangkok, said he was reimbursed in a timely manner. The best part is that you can easily extend coverage if you are having a little too much fun in Paris and decide to stay another month. You can get a quick quote here – keep in mind that it’s perfectly fine to NOT know your exact itinerary. RoamRight is another great option for travel insurance and price comparison.
#2 Must-Have for Healthy Travel: Recommended prescriptions for travel from your medical provider
To assure that I do everything I can to be a healthy traveler, I call my travel nurse to discuss my itinerary a few months in advance. Based on my itinerary, he/she makes recommendations for prescriptions and vaccinations. Don’t skip this step as it is super important, especially if you plan to visit developing countries. Thanks to my travel nurse, I was up to date with my shots when I visited SE Asia, knew to pack lots of insect repellent to Central America, and started taking Acetazolamide (for high altitude) in Lima at least 24 hours before I landed in Cusco. The most common prescription I’ve received is Ciprofloxacin 500 mg, which is an antibiotic to treat traveler’s diarrhea. My favorite part about traveling the world is trying different local foods, and sadly, these foods don’t always agree with my stomach; I’ve spent hours running to the toilet after eating something that I wholeheartedly regret. This prescription has worked miracles for me in Vietnam, Thailand, Peru, China, Morocco, Greece, and other countries where the level of sanitation is lower than that of the U.S. and 1st world countries. Talk to your doctor or travel nurse about your upcoming travel plans and see what is recommended (or required) for your trip.
#3 Must-Have for Healthy Travel: Over-the-counter PAIN RELIEVERS
For mild cases of unexpected aches and pain, be sure to travel with OTC pain relievers. These include your typical acetaminophen (e.g.Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Motrin, Advil, Aleve, etc. There are so many options so don’t go buying the entire counter – pick a travel sized bottle of one pain reliever of your choice and pack it away! You never know when you’ll need it on the road for back pain, headache, toothache, sprained ankle pain, etc. (Disclaimer: Always read the directions thoroughly before usage and consult your doctor if necessary)
#4 Must-Have for Healthy Travel: Over-the-counter meds for INDIGESTION
It is never a good day when you are exploring the city with an upset stomach. Whether or not a traveler’s diarrhea prescription is recommended to you, you should always pack your own OTC meds for indigestion or upset stomach just in case. Imodium and Pepto-Bismol are the popular ones, but like OTC pain relievers, there is an abundance of OTC meds to alleviate mild cases of stomach discomfort or diarrhea pains. I also like chewable TUMS – they are sweet, colorful, and quite effective. (Disclaimer: Always read the directions thoroughly before usage and consult your doctor if necessary)
#5 Must-Have for Healthy Travel: Over-the-counter meds for ALLERGIES
Unfortunately, many of us suffer from allergies – even on a daily basis for some of us. At times, I can’t seem to stop rubbing my eyes and scratching my right ear. ARRRRGGGHHH! It drives me crazy when I’m running around outdoors during allergy season. I just HATE allergies. Hate them with a passion. Who knows when and where you’ll start suffering from allergies and itches? Traveling while battling sneezes and watery eyes every 10 minutes is certainly not a wonderful vacation. So I come prepared and pack a travel-sized antihistamine (usually Benadryl, Claritin, or a generic brand) in case my allergies strike (again). It’s reassuring to have whether or not I actually need it. (Disclaimer: Always read the directions thoroughly before usage and consult your doctor if necessary)
#6 Must-Have for Healthy Travel: Over-the-counter meds for MOTION SICKNESS
Traveling frequently puts you in long and unplanned adventures. You may be on an overnight bus traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto or a big shuttle to tour the entire country of Morocco or an overnight train from Barcelona to Paris or a gigantic ship to cruise the Atlantic Ocean. Even if you are not prone to motion sickness, it’s ideal to have something on hand to combat it, again – if ever needed. You don’t want to be the person to throw up on the bus, or do you??? Popular OTC meds for motion sickness are Bonine, Antivert, and Dramamine. (Disclaimer: Always read the directions thoroughly before usage and consult your doctor if necessary)
#7 Must-Have for Healthy Travel: Multi-Vitamins
A given, but often forgotten must-have! Take your daily multivitamins to supplement your diet on the road! When you travel, it may be challenging to plan your meals accordingly because you don’t always know where and what you’ll be eating. Hence, it’s difficult to obtain all the essential vitamins and minerals for a healthy body. Keep your body healthy and prevent sickness by supplementing your meals with vitamins. I love my gummy vitamins, but I’ll take the chewable ones too. If you have trouble deciding on which ones are right for you, consult your doctor as everyone has different needs based on age and diet preference.
#8 Must-Have for Healthy Travel: Reusable water bottle
Whether you are a fancy traveler with your high-tech insulated $50+ water bottle or an indifferent budget traveler with your used Crystal Geyser bottle, you should carry a water bottle with you at ALL TIMES. Don’t be stuck on a long bus or subway ride without water. Many airports around the world even have drinking water stations so you can fill them up after passing security checkpoint. As I stated in my previous posts, staying hydrated will keep you healthy on the road. Want less headaches? Drink more water. Want more regular bowel movements? Drink more water. Want to feel better after a hangover? Drink more water. Want to be a healthy traveler? Drink more water. Carrying a reusable bottle and filling it up will ensure that you have access to water no matter where you go.
Being sick sucks period, but traveling while you’re sick sucks 10X more so let’s stay ready to battle it if ever necessary. That’s it for my list of MUST-HAVES for healthy travel – feel free to let me know what you bring to prepare by leaving me a comment below!
Want more on healthy travel? Be sure to read my post on 16 tips to stay healthy on the road.
Markin’ it up,
Roger Wellington a.k.a. The Doob
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