If your traveling abroad, health and safety should be your number one priority. Your goal is to return home in the same condition, if not better, than how you left. Below are my tips on how to stay healthy abroad.
Before you go, it’s important to do your research on:
Do not assume your destination is going to be hot/cold, wet/dry. The weather where you currently are might be completely different to where you’re going. Some places are cool and wet all year because of the altitude. Other places have only two seasons, rainy and dry. When it is summer here, it can be winter in another place. Be sure to pack the right clothes so you will be prepared to face the elements.
Whether you’re traveling to Machu Picchu or Mount Kilimanjaro, you have to prepare for the altitude. Altitude sickness is no joke. I remember being nauseous and having a strong headache when I was going up a mountain in the Tibetan region. I eventually lost all of my lunch. It was terrible.
When you are traveling to places with high altitude, there is a chance that you can develop altitude sickness and be exposed to the cold and ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Photo credit: pascale-amez/ Unsplash.com
Okay, so this technically falls under safety. But, did you know one of the leading causes of death for healthy U.S. travelers is related to road-related accidents? According to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention, 25,000 tourists die from road-related deaths each year. This can be attributed to tourist not being used to:
Take extra precaution when crossing the street (you might laugh, but in some countries, crossing the street is an art form which takes time to learn how to do it correctly. It’s not like crossing the street in the U.S. because cars may not wait).
I ran out of malaria medication during my first trip abroad. Thank God I didn’t contract malaria, but I was so paranoid that I would. Don’t let this happen to you.
Before you go talk to your doctor and visit the CDC website to see what medications and vaccinations you may need.
In addition to stocking up on medications and researching what shots you may need, be sure to
Please do not think you’re invincible. Prior to heading to Vietnam, I remember I was in the store buying items for my trip. I remember my mom asked me if I needed to purchase cold medicines. I told her no because I didn’t anticipate catching a cold during summer. Well, guess what? I was sick for a week and I had to find medicine when I was over there.
You don’t have to put all the supplies that would be in a hospital in your first-aid kit, but make sure you have the essentials.
If you are traveling to another timezone, you may experience jet lag. Jet lag is a temporary sleep disorder. When you have jet lag, you suffer from extreme tiredness and other symptoms after you travel through several time zones. When you have jet lag, your body’s internal clock is disrupted. You don’t know whether you should sleep or eat. For example, it is 2 am in your host country, but you are wide awake.
To avoid or reduce jet lag, be sure to read 6 Ways To Beat Jet Lag.
Sometimes travel is stressful, overwhelming, lonely, and just straight-up difficult. Just know that you’re not alone and there are people who care about you. If you have any issues and feel comfortable sharing, confide in a trusted person. Let them know how you’re doing. Stay in touch with family and friends back home. If you need to, reach out to a professional. Sometimes just talking it out helps a lot.
During my study abroad semester, I never got sick. The last day there, I felt invincible and decided to drink the tap water. The aftermath?
One week of chills, diarrhea, and a fever.
Now, when I’m overseas, I only drink water if it comes from a bottle. If it comes from the tap, I avoid it. Also, avoid ice in your drink since the ice was probably created from tap water.
Hot coffees and teas are probably fine to drink. However, if they are lukewarm, avoid it.
My rule of thumb when I’m overseas is if there are a lot of people at the restaurant (especially locals), then I am more likely to try it. If it’s empty, I most likely will avoid it.
When you’re overseas, be cautious of the food, especially if it’s been sitting out for a while.
In regards to street food, some people will say to avoid it. For me, street food is part of the experience. However, it’s risky and you have to be selective (although the risks are lower, you can also get food poising from a nice restaurant too, FYI).
I would avoid raw meat and salads.
Mosquitoes are those little pests that I personally question their existence. However, they can be deadly because they can carry diseases. It is important to take the proper precautions. If you’re headed to a country with Malaria, Dengue, or Zika, be sure to visit your doctor.
Also, some places will have mosquito nets that you can sleep in. Make sure your windows have screens on them.
And, if you’re staying long-term, you might invest in an electric bat to kill mosquitos that enter your home.
Exercising can help you tremendously with navigating your new world. I wrote an article on how to stay in shape abroad. Check it out!
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