Unless you are loaded or you travel for a living, chances are, you’ve saved up and prepared quite a bit to be able to go on your next overseas trip. So it always comes as a party-wrecker when you or one of your travel companions fall victim to illness during the trip.
It doesn’t help that travelling often takes a toll on your body. Tiredness from long or overnight flights (or both), unfamiliar surroundings, unsanitary planes or lodgings, and exotic foods all contribute to making your body more vulnerable to illnesses.
As they say, prevention is better than cure. While some may consider it paranoid, there is a list of precautions one can take to minimise the chances of falling ill while travelling:
Avoid plane bathrooms
Plane bathrooms are a receptacle for germs. So many people use those bathrooms, and depending on the airlines, the bathrooms might not even be cleaned thoroughly before your flight. Reports show that toilet sinks, seats, and door handles are teeming with unwelcome germs. If you can help it, it is best to relieve yourself before and after a flight at the airport. When this is not possible on a long flight, reduce the chance of picking up these germs by washing and wiping your hands properly after using the toilet, and use a paper towel to open the door.
Hydration is an integral part of staying healthy. Your body is 60% water, and water is required for most life-sustaining functions in your body. Some people forget to drink water when they are occupied with getting to their next holiday destination, but doing so will help to keep illnesses at bay. Your body needs more water, especially if you are at a warmer climate or on the plane where the humidity is low, so make sure to drink up.
Choose safe water sources
Staying hydrated may pose a problem in locations where safe water is less accessible. For some people, water becomes the very thing that causes them to be ill. Not every country has potable tap water, so check before you gulp straight from the tap. It is also easy to forget that ice is also water, and it can get contaminated easily. So take extra care when ordering iced drinks, or better still, avoid them if you are unsure.
Select food with care
It can be tempting to gorge on local delicacies from street-side stalls, especially when many night markets and food streets are such popular tourist destinations. However, street-side stalls are more prone to contaminants from the air, insects, or poor food handling. While it might be too much to deprive yourself of the experience of street-side eating, you can be selective about the delicacies you consume. Observe the way the food is handled and stored, and check that the food is served fresh, hot and thoroughly cooked. One tip is to buy from popular stalls as they have higher turnover and a reputation to uphold.
Maintain a balanced diet
In the midst of travelling, it can be easy to neglect your health and diet. The minimum one can do is to maintain a healthy diet even when overseas, making sure to include all the necessary nutrients. If you know this is something difficult for you to do, supplements are a good idea to tide you through the period of travel.
Risks are part and parcel of life and travel. While you can do your part to minimise your vulnerability, unexpected things can and do happen. You can prepare for illnesses by bringing your own medication for minor ailments like the common cold, fever, or diarrhoea. If you have any underlying chronic conditions, do also have your medication and doctor’s prescription on hand.
Finally, a travel insurance plan is recommended as a safeguard against unforeseen incidents, medical or otherwise. No one plans to fall ill, and it is probably no one’s wish to get a ride in an air ambulance. You will thank yourself for signing a plan when you need to look for medical services overseas. From managing hospital bills to conducting medical evacuation, having an insurer will benefit you when you are feeling ill and lost in a foreign land.