When you travel overseas, one of the best ways to enjoy yourself is to stay healthy. Health issues overseas can be complicated when you are sick and you are unable to speak the language.
The first point of staying healthy is prevention. Did you know that most vaccinations have a 70-99% success rate, depending on what you are being vaccinated for? Now, I typically do not get the flu shot, but when traveling overseas, I decided to get vaccinated for: Hepatitis A & B, Cholera, Typhoid and Tetanus.
TRAVEL CLINIC: We went to a preventative health clinic that specialized in overseas travel. After sharing where we were going, the clinic recommended various vaccinations and were able to give us our vaccines on site. They also provided a prescription for malaria pills and a medication to be used for extreme diarrhea. We also plan on taking the over-the-counter vaccination Dukoral, to prevent travelers diarrhea. These vaccinations were not cheap and all together, probably set us back around $1000.
HEALTH CARE SYSTEM: Six months before our planned trip, I went to my regular GP to get a comprehensive check up. Thankfully he gave me a free bill of health. He also prescribed a broad spectrum antibiotic and a set of my own medical needles. I had a friend who required stitches in Asia and the doctor whipped open the drawer and started sorting through the used needles to stitch her up. Thankfully she had her own needles with her. They are small and easy to carry, so this is a no brainer for me.
OVER THE COUNTER MEDICATION: When you feel sick, most of us just send our significant other to the local pharmacy. When you are traveling overseas, something as simple as allergy medication can be extremely difficult to find. I am sure, in a pinch, I would be able to find something, but when it is late, you don’t speak the language and you just want some headache medication so that you can crawl into bed, these meds from home will be appreciated. I am taking a small supply of the following over-the-counter medication. Ibuprofen (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for headaches, muscle aches), Zantac (treat and prevent stomach upset and acid), Benadryl (antihistamine medication), Imodium (anti-diarrhea), Polysporin (antibiotic cream), and Hydralyte powder (oral re hydration used to treat dehydration caused by diarrhea and also used to hydrate for long haul flights). We will also be carry a small medical kit to doctor up scratches, blisters and other tiny injuries.
HOMEOPATHIC MEDICATION: I have a friend who has traveled all over the world. She described a situation we all dread. She was traveling alone in India, and she was vomiting profusely, lying on the bathroom floor, so weak that she couldn’t even stand. (My worst nightmare.) She treated herself with some homeopath remedies, and within 10 minutes she was no longer vomiting. Within 20 minutes, she was able to stand.
I contacted her homeopath, who recommended that I order a travel kit from England. This homeopathic remedy kit comes with 36 tiny vials. Within each vial is about 30 dots. Each dot is a dose of medicine. This tiny kit also comes with a book with various descriptions of ailments and recipes. It also recommends when you should seek medical treatment. As one friend said, “being able to determine when to seek medical help is key.” I know this looks like a briefcase, but I put my dental floss in the picture to give you an idea of how tiny this little kit really is. (This kit set me back about $80).
TRAVEL INSURANCE: I think decent travel insurance is critical for any traveler. Getting caught overseas with a life-threatening injury or illness can wipe out your life savings. We have travel insurance from World Nomads, which is one of the most highly recommended travel insurance. Depending on where you are going, this insurance will set you back about $65 / month. In light of what they cover, this one is a no brainer.
Remember, something as simple as a severe allergic reaction, crippling headache or stomach bug is taking time away from you enjoying the local culture, food, people and your travel experience. Get prepared and then relax and enjoy your trip.