05 July, 2018

How to Avoid Getting Sick While Traveling

Getting sick anywhere is no fun. Getting sick while traveling is the worst. 

You’re away from home, you might be staying in dorm, sharing a bathroom, it’s hot, you’re sweaty, it sucks! All you want to do is click your fingers and be tucked up back at home in front of the TV with your mum looking after you. Yup, getting sick while traveling is the absolute worst!  

Unfortunately if you want to wander the world and have adventures, getting sick every once in a while is simply part of the deal. That said there are some tried and tested things you can do to reduce your risk of being quite so ill, quite so frequently. 

Read on below I’ll explain how to avoid getting sick while traveling.

Always carry hand wash

People if you want to be a cool-headed traveler you are going to have to get your head around one thing quickly – every trip to the bathroom is an adventure into the unknown. 

Hygiene levels vary drastically from country to country. They often vary drastically within countries. As there’s absolutely no avoiding the call of nature you might as well embrace the fact that you’re going to end up doing your business in some pretty horrifying places. So you might as well just get one with it, there’s absolutely no point moaning about it.

Be aware however that soap and water isn’t always provided to clean your hands. No a problem just make sure you always carry a little bottle of antibacterial handwash. These little fellas are super cheap and super useful in preventing you picking the type of germs that may see you visiting the bathroom, a lot! 

Oh, and for those of you from the western world, if you’re heading out east you’d better start working on your squatting skills now – you’re gonna need them. Don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s a handy guide

Watch what you drink

If you come from a country where the water is clean enough to drink straight from the tap, then consider yourself lucky. Really lucky. Most of the world doesn’t have this luxury. 

When you are in a new country be aware of the water quality, if you have your suspicions then where possible always drink bottled water or water that has been boiled. 

Don’t be fooled by the fact that locals are drinking untreated water, firstly they may not be aware of the dangers, secondly they may not have any other choice, and thirdly their bodies are probably used to it. Yours isn’t. 

Be careful when drinking other drinks too, anything that involves ice, such as fruit juices and those nice smoothies you like, could be a potential source of sickness. Now, that’s not to say you shouldn’t sample these beverages just that you should pay a little attention to how they are made. 

Eat wisely

One of the greatest pleasures of traveling is the being able to sample new, interesting and downright exotic, foods. If the late, great, travelling chef Anthony Bourdain taught us anything at all, it’s that food has a power to bring people together even when language, religion and race separates us. 

When I first went traveling I fully embraced the see food diet. If I saw it, I ate it. However after a few cases of Delhi Belly brought me quite literally to my knees, I changed tact a little.

Now I am more discerning where I eat. Streetfood is still my absolute favourite but now I have a few ground rules. Only eat seafood near the sea. Only eat at busy places. Only eat things that are cooked in front of you and are hot. Say no to lettuce. Avoid the buffet. 

By avoid the buffet, I mean food left out in pans all day. I don’t mean buffet’s like this Korean beauty.

In the immortal words of Homer Simpson, ‘You don’t win friends with salad.’ You also don’t stay healthy traveling by tucking into uncooked vegetables like lettuce that have been washed in dirty water.

Sleep more

I’ve saved my best and most important tip until last. Sleep more. Simple as that. 

Whether we are at home or wandering the world, one thing remains constant – the better we sleep, the healthier we are. Not only that, the better we sleep, the more we enjoy almost everything travel has to offer. From the food, to the sightseeing, to yes, even the bargaining! Sleep truly is a miraculous thing, to find out more, The Sleep Advisor has a wealth of information available. 

One of the most overlooked reasons we get sick when traveling is that we’re exhausted half of the time. Night buses, dorm rooms, late night drinking sessions followed by sunrise hikes. After a while all the hectic activity simply gets the better of us.

Sleep deprivation leads to an impaired immune system. With our body’s defence system weakened we are far more susceptible to foreign invaders such bacteria and viruses. Those little nasties hidden in the lettuce leaf will be far more successful in laying you low when you’re tired than when you’re fully rested and fighting fit. Time for bed I think!  

Well, there you have it travel fans, your guide to avoiding sickness on the road. Respect your body’s need for sleep, watch what you eat and drink, and keep those little paws of your clean. Simple really. Follow these rules and you’ll stay as fit as a fiddle no matter where you are in the world. 

Oh, and avoid those mosquito bites! But that’s another story. 

Lastly, hope this helps you guys in travelling. Have a safe and fun trip!

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