Staying Healthy on Tour – GoNOMAD MINI GUIDE
Staying Healthy on Tour
By Berne Broudy
Nothing can ruin a vacation like getting sick. Feeling under the weather far from home is no fun, at best. You may miss activities, or find yourself at the end of the mule train having to keep moving even though you’d rather be in bed asleep.
There is no way to guarantee perfect health on tour, but there are tricks of the trade every traveler should know that give you the best shot at staying healthy when you’re on the road.
Avoid last minute stress by planning ahead
When your body gets run down, you’re more susceptible to getting sick. Plan to finish work and errands before your pre-departure day. Minimizing the last minute crunch will help ensure that you start your vacation relaxed instead of overtaxed.
Get enough sleep
It can be tempting to dance the night away in a foreign port of call, or to stay up until dawn schmoozing with fellow travelers. Resist the urge, or be aware of the possible consequences the day after.
Many tours get an early start. Like stress, lack of sleep lowers your immune system’s ability to fight, making you more susceptible to getting sick. On tour, if you’re not ready to go when the bus is leaving, you risk annoying your fellow travelers, and you might get left behind.
- Have a check up before you leave
If you are going to a remote or exotic destination, you may need vaccinations up to two months before your departure date. Work with your doctor, travel clinic and the Center for Disease Control www.cdc.gov/travel to determine what shots are required and/or advised for you. Take the opportunity to have a physical, so you can be sure you’re in tiptop shape for your trip.If you’ve had dental problems in the past, you may also want to consider checking in with your dentist. Have the root canal you’ve been putting off before you leave.
- Inform your tour company of any special health conditions or concerns.
If you have any condition that might affect you, your guides or other guests on tour, let the tour company know in advance so they can be in the best position to assist you should an emergency arise. The same goes for allergies to foods or medicines. Make sure your guide and the tour company have emergency contact names and numbers for you. Guides should carry this information at all times, but it doesn’t hurt to also carry a copy on your person. Many travelers will wear a bracelet or carry a card that tells their blood type, allergies or other health concerns and has emergency numbers.
- Carry a personal first aid kit with remedies that work for you
Many tour guides carry a first aid kit with them, but it’s still a good idea to stock your own. In addition to the basics like Band Aids, tweezers, sunscreen and insect repellent, you may want to add a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Try to anticipate what will soothe you when you’re feeling less than 100%. Your guide may have aspirin available, but if you prefer ibuprofen or white willow bark tincture, make sure to bring it yourself!In some places it is virtually impossible to buy first aid supplies or health and beauty aids. For example, tampons can be near impossible to find in many countries. Condoms may be unreliable or expired. Bring what you’ll need. If you wear contacts, bring plenty of solution, and if you depend on corrective lenses always bring an extra set.Think about where your travels will take you. Motion sickness and altitude sickness are common travel conditions that can range from being a mild discomfort to downright devastating. Consider the possibilities and plan in advance.
- Take your tour company’s recommendations seriously
Reputable international tour companies will provide guests with information on food, water and any health concerns in the area you’ll be traveling. Take their advice seriously. It’s in the operator’s best interest to keep you healthy while you’re traveling with them. It’s part of their job. Sometimes water and food advisories may only apply to a part of a country. For example, it is recommended that travelers avoid tap water in Santiago, Chile’s capital city, though the water is potable in the rest of the country.There may be particular rivers in which you shouldn’t swim, or an area of town you should avoid. Your tour company should be well educated about unusual travel health advisories for particular areas.
- Be a smart packer
The right clothes will not only keep you comfortable on tour, but also can keep you healthy. A prolonged period of being cold and wet or extremely overheated can lead to a myriad of maladies from common colds to heat exhaustion. Pack weather-appropriate clothing. For colder climates, bring synthetics you can layer and that will dry quickly if they get wet. For warmer climates, bring light color, well-ventilated clothing to help you stay cool. Always choose shoes that are comfortable and appropriate to the terrain you’ll be on. If they’re not broken in, leave them home.
The human body is 98% water. We need to drink water consistently to stay healthy. Carry water purifier like Aqua Mira, a water filter, or iodine tablets if you’re concerned about being able to find pure water, from the tap or from the bottle. In areas where the water is questionable, avoid ice no matter how badly you want a cold drink. Brush your teeth with purified or bottled water, and keep your mouth shut when showering.
- Consider travel insurance
Travel insurance is relatively inexpensive, and covers trip cancellation or delay as well as emergency medical expenses and assistance, and baggage insurance. Check with your insurance agent to find out what is covered by your health insurance and your homeowners or renter’s policy. There may be special restrictions if you’re out of town or out of the country. Ask your agent about trip insurance. You can also often buy travel and trip insurance through your tour operator. Search the GoNOMAD TRAVEL DESK LISTINGS for Travel Insurance Specialists.
- Use good judgment
You know your body, your personal health record and your own limits better than anyone does. Trust your own instincts and go with your gut. Keep in mind that on tour, you may not be the only one who is affected when you get sick.Good judgment will keep you healthy most of the time, and will help insure your enjoy your tour.
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