Look. I am a nurse and this may lead to an assumption that I knew how to avoid food poisoning or otherwise getting sick on the road. But the truth? The truth is that I have been so horribly sick that that itself should stop me from ever leaving home again. Although neither of us, nurse or the engineer, have ever had any major accidents, both of us have been vomiting a lot when traveling. Even went through the infamous Delhi belly together. And even though we did get engaged during the ordeal, it was despite the vomiting and diarrhea, no thanks to it ♥
Here is a list of some of the things we have found useful and some mistakes that we have made (and learned from). They are not really medical advice, or a full check list for when you hit the road, but a combination of common sense and personal experiences on how to avoid getting sick or hurt. Gummy bears included!
(Seriously, don’t come to a travel blog for medical advice. Also, don’t read food blog to learn how to build a house. Unless it’s a ginger bread house.)
- Do not, I repeat, do NOT eat mayonnaise. Well, at least when you cannot be a one hundred percent sure it is still okay to eat and the cold chain has not been interrupted. However, you might wanna try it if you wish to lose around 10 kg before going to Goa (UhMAZING photos of two very flat bellies happened after that).
- Wash your hands. With soap. Use disinfectant before you eat.
- You might want to avoid jumping on your spouse’s laptop charger (see the featured picture of a certain right foot). If something similar happens, make sure to get a tetanus booster unless you got it already.
- Get your vaccinations up-to-date. At least the hepatitis A and B ones. Your liver will thank you. (No case of liver disease in this little family of two, but wouldn’t want one, either.) We also have been vaccinated against yellow fever (or else no entrance to or exit fro Uganda..), tetanus and a ton of children’s disease.
- Keep some basic stuff with you, like bandages, thermometer and wound cleaning spray. No need to look for an emergency room every time you get a cut.
- Do not eat ice cream that has some weird icy looking, yellowish stuff on the bottom of the container. That equals vomiting on a Ugandan school bus. Sure the driver would had appreciated if I had followed this rule, I think.
- Getting anything done in some local VIP clinic where they happen to speak English can be, let’s say, a bit expensive. An example: A minor eye operation 800€ in Beijing vs. 18 € back home with the public health care insurance covering most of it (this was in 2009, imagine the prices to be a bit higher now). In this case, the travel insurance luckily covered the whole thing, so get a good insurance plan and pay attention to what it covers.
- If you do get sick and vomit uncontrollably and crawl to the toilet and back every 30 minutes until you think you’re dying , ♥french fries♥ seem to work like magic when it comes to getting hydrated again. All the salt plus an easy to digest form and plain starch will help you and your destroyed gut get back to business. Worked for me in China. ♥Cold apples♥ and ♥gummy bears♥ did the trick in Uganda, and ♥cream crackers ♥ in India. Other than that, try ORS (oral re-hydration solution, you can buy it in a drug store or make it yourself) or salted mineral water. Worry about eating healthy later.
- Get yourself on the road as healthy as possible. See our previous post about travelling with a chronic illness. You can’t really avoid getting sick while travelling but you can try and do your best to be in a good health before take off.
- Extra tip: We have never needed to have a mosquito net with us. When ever we’ve been to a malaria or yellow fever area, all the hostels and hotels have provided them free of charge. Probably wouldn’t even stay at a place that didn’t, really.
Do you have good ideas on how to stay healthy on the road? Let us know in the comment section!