Staying Healthy on the Road

Point_ItNo one likes to be sick. But being sick in a strange room with no medicine and no way to communicate is a whole ‘nother level of pain and discomfort.

Here’re a few pointers for avoiding the whole tortuous scene:

Heal Thyself

•  Don’t go already sick. I am a bad example of this. Many, many times, I’m working right up until the day I leave and am totally exhausted when I get on the plane. This is no way to start a “vacation.” See: Urgencia! in Portugal.

Rest if you are sick. Adjust your itinerary to stay in bed for a few days. Mom and I did this in Vienna, Austria when she got the 24-hour flu. The Opera will wait (although the Sacher Torte wouldn’t wait – yum!)

An Ounce of Prevention

Be pro-active! Preventative medicine can certainly help. I just read about someone who takes pro-biotics while she travels. This may not be a bad idea since they may help fight off some tummy turbulence.

Watch what you eat. This one is tough since trying new foods is a big part of travel fun. A few simple rules to keep in mind: no ice, no un-peeled fruits / vegetables, no under-cooked anything.

I used to pride myself on my iron stomach – until I was taken out by a transvestite in Thailand. Read: Trannie Revenge.

Self Medicate

Buy Drugs. One of the first things I do overseas is hit a pharmacy, especially if I’m in Latin America and the drugs are cheap and can be bought over the counter. For instance, I’ll buy a Z-pak just in case I need a course of antibiotics along the way.

Bring your own Paraphernalia. I’ve also read about people carrying clean syringes with them. This seems a bit extreme to me. I mean, if I’m sick enough where someone has to inject me (with what?) and there no clean facilities, then I better be getting medivac’ed out of there.

My answer to this: Buy travel health insurance. Here’re two companies I’ve bought policies from (but never had to use): Multinational Underwriters and Manulife Financial.

Doctor’s Orders

Seek Professional Advice. If you’re not getting better, bite the bullet and see a doctor. Depending where you are, you can get a recommendation from your hotel concierge (although I usually don’t travel at this level of luxury), your local tour agency, or your country’s consulate. At various times, I’ve resorted to all three with good luck.

Point It. I’ve seen this book a few times and have always thought it was unnecessary (a few phrases, pointing and smiling usually does the trick for me.) But I can see how if you’re delirious with fever or pain, a picture dictionary might be helpful. Check out: Point it by Dieter Graf.

Drink Up!

And my all-time favorite preventative medicine: Beer!

No, really, I think it really does kill off lots of unwanted bugs and the bubbles can do a tummy good. Note: This is advice from someone with zero medical experience, but lots of hours logged in ale houses.

So let’s raise a glass to our next – healthy — holiday!


This entry was posted on Saturday, September 18th, 2010 and is filed under On the Road.

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