No one likes to be ill, and that’s especially the case when you're traveling. Getting sick in a strange locale can be unsettling and sometimes downright scary. So how do you ensure you’ll stay well on the road? Here are five things that will keep you from getting sick while traveling.
Travel to many parts of the world can require a smorgasbord of vaccinations and pills, so it’s well to plan ahead to ensure the treatment you need has sufficient time to work before you set foot on foreign soil. Even if you’ve been before, advice can change, so check out websites such as Fit For Travel for up-to-date, country-specific advice. Don’t be tempted to skip getting your jabs – the fleeting pinprick of the needle is far less painful than a dose of the disease it’s designed to prevent. Make sure you take the right kind of anti-malarials too and pack a decent insect repellent to keep bites at bay, as well as a decent first aid kit. Build in rest days to ensure a punishing itinerary doesn’t leave you exhausted and vulnerable to succumbing to germs.
Don’t Drink the Water
In some parts of the world, you can get a nasty bout of gastro-enteritis if you drink the water. Even if it’s safe, your gut might be unused to the particular mineral content so stick to bottled water and other safe drinks. Ice cubes are generally safe so long as they have been made from boiled, filtered or purified water – often they’ll appear clear. If in doubt, ask for drinks from chilled bottles. Salads are another no thanks to the water used in their production; peel and cook fruit and vegetables to be on the safe side. In the bathroom, keep your mouth shut in the shower and consider using bottled water when you brush your teeth.
Read Restaurant Reviews
Booking a hot new restaurant seems like a great idea in the planning stage, but what happens when it wakes you up that night with searing stomach pains? A glance through some recent restaurant reviews will give you an indication of how hygienic the establishment is likely to be – no one’s going to give a glowing recommendation of somewhere that made them sick. In some countries, such as the UK, it’s the law for establishments to display their most recent food hygiene rating on the window or door. Try to avoid buffets where the food has been kept warm, as you don’t know when it was cooked. Opt for dishes that have to be cooked to order and can’t be reheated. Don’t rule out street food. As it’s prepared in front of you, you can ascertain whether you’re happy with the level of cleanliness and you can also be sure that it’s piping hot.
Wash Your Hands
If you’re grabbing a bite to eat on the road, sometimes it's easy to forget the importance of personal hygiene. It’s impossible to avoid picking up germs —everything you touch is likely to be covered in harmful bacteria. Wash your hands with hot water and soap when you can, and think carefully whether you should use the towel provided to dry them afterwards, particularly if it’s grubby. Carry a travel-sized pack of antiseptic wipes or a pocket-sized bottle of hand sanitizer to ensure that you aren’t transferring germs from your hands to your food.
Don’t Be Tempted to Pet Strays
Before I had dogs of my own, I was extremely wary of coming into contact with stray dogs I met while traveling. Since becoming a pet owner, I’m so used to stroking my two retrievers, I now have to remind myself that those cute strays with the big eyes might be harboring fleas or even rabies. If there’s a pet in residence at your hotel, make sure it’s happy to be handled – you don’t want a nasty scratch or bite to the hand if it’s not as friendly as you’d hoped. If the worst happens, seek medical advice promptly in case you need the wound cleaned or a preventative shot.