Regardless of where you plan on traveling, you are more likely to stay healthy if you are already living a healthy lifestyle. Getting regular aerobic exercise increases your endurance, enabling you to do more walking, hiking, swimming, skiing, or other more or less strenuous activities you may want to partake in on your trip, and making it less likely that a tough climb will result in a heart attack, dizziness, or shortness of breath.
Before you go
“The first wealth is health”
Guarding against injuries in accidents
Whether you are in a car or a plane, you are well-advised to use a seatbelt. This is much more crucial when you are in the front seat of a car, where in the event of a sudden stop, you risk crashing through the windshield.
If you are on any kind of bike, make sure to wear a good helmet, and if you are going somewhere where helmets are hard to find, consider bringing one from home. You do not want to have your vacation spoiled by an easily preventable brain injury.
Get any recommended vaccinations, starting 8 weeks before travelling, especially when travelling abroad to tropical or third-world areas. If you are travelling to a particularly disease prone area, you may want to discuss immunoglobulin injections, which will make you immune to a host of diseases for several months. Consult a doctor to identify exact needs, as it depends on the case and the individual. Don’t wait till the last minute, as some vaccinations take weeks to produce immunity and if you need multiple vaccinations, chances are good that some of them require a few weeks (usually 2 to 4) before the next vaccination.
First aid kit
Take a health kit of medications and first aid items. Ensure that the quantity of prescription medications, and other items that may be difficult to obtain while travelling, will last for the entire trip.
If there is any chance you might have sex on your trip, buy the condoms of your choice and take them with you. If you don’t, there’s a risk that you could get carried away by the moment and catch something you can never get rid of, and/or get pregnant or get someone pregnant. Also, condoms sold in some places may be the wrong size for you or may be poorly quality-controlled and liable to break. And while it has become extremely rare, there are some places in the world where condoms are hard to get, if not impossible.
Make sure your travel insurance is up to date.
Make sure you know whether the tap water of the places you’re visiting is safe to drink. In many instances, it is not safe to use tap water even to rinse your toothbrush, unless the water is boiled. Similarly, be careful about drinks with ice. If the water is not safe to drink at room temperature, freezing it will not kill pathogens that can make you very sick. If that’s the case, the ice is safe, but when in doubt, look out!
Food poisoning can happen anywhere, but the risk is greater in hot climates where food can go bad more quickly. Be careful about food that has been or could have been left out for hours, especially in hot weather that’s conducive to microbe reproduction. Also fresh vegetables washed in possibly dirty water are a risk. In many countries, raw fruits and vegetables are usually quite safe, but if you are in doubt about the safety of raw, unpeeled fruits or vegetables anywhere, don’t eat them. Also, even if you are purchasing a slice of melon, if you know whether the vendor used a dirty machete to chop it or it was cut cleanly, you can gauge the possible danger from eating it.
If you are going to be traveling in a region where diseases spread by mosquitoes, ticks, flies, or other vectors are endemic, make sure to take preventive measures. To avoid mosquito bites, consider using a repellent such as citronella and sleeping under a mosquito netting. To avoid tick bites, tuck your socks into your long pants, in addition.
Before you leave to a another country, web-search about the dangerous animals in the relevant country.
Swimming and diving risks
Some beaches are extremely dangerous. If you ask some locals where the beach is, and they point you in its direction but tell you not to swim there because there are evil spirits in the water, don’t ignore their advice. Whether you call it evil spirits or undertow, it will kill you just as dead. A word to the wise is, if you are considering swimming at a remote ocean beach with no lifeguard, make sure it is partially enclosed by a cape, because that is likely to cut off some of the riptide. Of course, it’s much safer not to swim unless a lifeguard is on duty.
Also be careful in places where dangerous jellyfish are endemic. In terms of diving risks, scuba diving can easily be fatal if you are not properly trained. Fortunately, you generally cannot scuba dive unless you are properly trained and certified, which minimizes the risks greatly. Swim or dive with water sport experts or trainees.
What to do if you get sick or injured
If there is a reliable emergency number for ambulances in the country you are visiting, make sure you have it memorized or take it with you. For GSM phones 112 should connect you to the local emergency number (but better safe than sorry). You can try 112 or 911 with any phone and hope they are forwarded to the right place. Your insurance company may also have a helpline.If you are dealing with a situation that is not an emergency, but you are nevertheless really ill, get a recommendation for a good doctor. You have to concern about your health no matter where you travel.
Whether you have a “staycation” or travel to the farthest corners of the Earth, you will be able to enjoy your travels more if you stay healthy. Whenever you plan to travel, concern about your healthy and play safe to enjoy to the fullest.