To enjoy your tour, you will need to remain in good health. Part of that is ensuring you meet your nutritional requirements while on tour, but you need to plan for other contingencies as well. A well thought out and stocked first-aid kit is essential. If you are going to be touring in areas where there are diseases like malaria, japanese encephalitis or rabies, you will need to get immunisations and stock up on prophylactic medications like anti-malarials and insect repellent.
Depending on where you are touring, water and food hygiene may be an issue you have to deal with.
In developed countries, rules and regulations are in place to protect consumers from food poisoning. This is not the case in less developed countries, where travellers often fall victim stomach bugs. Fortunately, with a little preparation and following some simple guidelines, you can minimise your risk of becoming ill:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially before eating. If soap and water are not available, hand sanitizing solutions are very useful.
- Eat meals that arrive at your table steaming hot, the hotter the better. The heat will kill most of the bugs that can make you sick.
- Avoid cold foods such as salads and sandwiches.
- Look for places where lots of local people are eating, they know if the food is good. High turnover in produce means it is more likely to be fresh.
- Many traveller’s stomach maladies are related to water, there are also serious water-bourne parasites and diseases in some parts of the world that can make you incredibly sick. Drink water only if you think it is safe to do so. If in doubt, don’t drink it or use a water purifying pump or tablets as a precaution.
- Avoid ice unless you know it’s been made from purified water.
- Don’t wash your toothbrush under the tap. Sounds simple, but I’ve done it before and paid the price.
- Keep your mouth closed in the shower.
- Check the caps on bottles of water that you purchase to make sure they haven’t been refilled with water from the local pond.
If you haven’t already done so, doing a course in first-aid is time well invested. In the unlikely event of a major catastrophe having some knowledge of what to do to help makes the situation easier to deal with and you might even save someone’s life.
I carry a comprehensive, but small, first-aid kit on all my travels. I use it mainly to patch others up, but I do have a reputation for injuring myself in seemingly innocuous ways, which is why I like to be prepared.
Before you leave on your adventure you should know how to treat cuts, scrapes, sprains, and broken bones in an emergency situation.
My first-aid kit:
|7.5cmx1.5m compression bandage||sprains, strains, splinting|
|plenty of band-aids (small wound dressings)||small cuts, grazes|
|8.3cmx6cm large wound dressings||large cuts, grazes|
|3.8cmx13.7m roll of sports strapping tape||strapping weak/sprained joints, supporting cracked/broken ribs|
|ampoules of saline solution||cleaning wounds, eyewash|
|needle and syringe||to substitute if I think there is a hygiene problem at a hospital/medical centre|
|100ml bottle of Betadine Surgical Scrub and sponge||washing wounds, treating fungal infections|
|topical antiseptic cream||treating wounds|
|steri-strips||emergency treatment of open cuts|
|anti-fungal cream||athlete’s foot, candida|
|paracetamol and ibuprofen||pain relief|
|gastrolyte (rehydration solution)||dehydration caused by gastroenteritis|
|antibiotics||treating severe gastroenteritis, dysentry, etc|
|emergency blanket||treating shock, hypothermia|
|small triage manual||from the TravelDoctor, contains brief instructions on treating some travel-related maladies|
Immunisations and prophylactic medications
Depending on where your are going to tour, you may need some pre-departure immunisations and prescriptions for prophylactic (preventative) medications. There are a number of websites that can help you understand what your needs will be, but there is no substitute for talking to a travel medicine specialist. If you are unsure, talk to your family doctor.
The Travel Doctor site provides a general overview of immunisation and prophylaxis requirements for each country.
Depending on the location and length of your tour, you may need to pack quite an amount of medication, plan for this alongside the rest of your gear.
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