Words by Amy Wren
I'm perhaps not the best person to offer up health advice when it comes to travelling but after spending a lot of time in third world countries I've experienced the good the bad and the ugly while on the road. From heat rash in Bali to food poisoning in Chang Mai and everything in between, I've learned a thing or two along the way about how to firstly get prepared, keep on top of your health during your travels, and survive to tell the tale.
Statistics show that overseas travellers have a 50 per cent chance of suffering from a travel-related illness. The most common travel-related sickness is gastrointestinal infection, which is generally picked up from poorly prepared food and untreated water. Here is how to be prepared and aware of health issues when travelling!
WHAT TO EAT
Hot foods, cooked foods! This way you can assure that any bad bacteria has been killed off by the heat. Avoid salads and fruits that may have been washed in dirty water, and cold meats & fish!
Exercising on the road
Before I went backpacking around Asia I booked into a yoga retreat in Thailand and I couldn't recommend it more, the perfect way to detox before you hit the road again.
I also try and do minimum of 40 minuets cardio everyday which is easily done while travelling. Wake up early and go for a power walk/run along the beach, hire a bike and explore whatever city you may be in or get your friends and go for a hike.
Perhaps you're staying somewhere that's freezing so it's a little harder to get outdoors - do yoga in your hotel room or this 20 minuet HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout you can literally do anywhere!, I've even done it in a hostel bathroom before when I was limited for space whilst in Cambodia, sharing an 8 girl dorm room and it wasn't the safest area for me to be running around the streets alone.
x 15 sumo squats
x 15 burpees (or skip rope for 2 minutes)
x 15 bench dips
x 30 bicycle crunches
x 15 lunges both side
x 30 mountain climbers
x 15 jump squats
x 15 push ups
Complete circuit one with a 1 minute rest, complete circuit 2 with a 1 minute rest then repeat 4 times (4 rounds each circuit in total)
Probiotics help move food through your gut and combat infectious diarrhoea caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. If you do contract any viruses or bacteria taking extra probiotics will help to boost your immune system, improve digestive function, prevent and treat urinary track infections and fight food-borne illnesses.
HYDRATION IS KEY
One of the most common causes of sickness for travellers is being exposed to contaminated water. The easiest ways for these bacteria and parasites to enter your body is through the local tap water, so ensure your water is clean. I highly recommend taking the Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System with you everywhere. It removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as Salmonella, cholera, E.coli and giardia. We even tried putting coke, dirt, milk & red food colouring through it and it came out completely clear!
FIRST AID KIT
If you plan on traveling outside of major cities, here is what I suggest you put in your first aid-kit. This will save you from getting into some nasty situations and possibly help avoid the inconvenient trip to a doctor, especially when you're off the grid. When we were in Vietnam my friend came off her motorbike riding from Hoi An to Hue, potentially a fatal experience, however, thankfully she was okay and came off with a badly grazed leg. This could have turned in a nasty infection but thankfully we were prepared and cleaned her wounds up to avoid infection in the grazes immediately and she healed in record time. It’s so easy to get cut or scratched when you’re out and about, particularly if you plan on hiking or doing other physical activities and when you're showering in unhygienic water, especially in humid climates infections are paramount. Being prepared and having a few medications will save you in those unexpected situations.
Start with a durable container or waterproof zip pouch
- Anti-Diarrhoea Tablets – Imodium.
- Motion Sickness Medicine
- Anti-itch Cream – We were obsessed with tiger balm when traveller through Asia. It stops itchy mozzy bites instantly!
- Butterfly Closures for deep cuts
- Aleo vera Gel
- Anti-fungal cream
- Standard Strip Bandages (bandaids)
- Antiseptic Wipes
- Antibiotic Ointment
- Gauze Pads
- Medical Adhesive Tape
- Stretch bandages
- Saline solution
- Anti-Bacterial Hand Gel
- Tissues & Toilet Paper
Have a medical check-up to make sure you are healthy before you travel and discuss vaccinations with your doctor. You can get a blood test to see what vaccinations you already have had and your doctor will advise what you need depending on where you plan on travelling.
Note: Please note all information provided on this page is to be used a guide only and my opinion is my own. Please ensure you obtain professional medical advise before travelling.