Okay, okay, okay, sometimes you are going to get the colleywobbles, as my grandma used to say, but you can reduce the odds and get some sensible management techniques when the inevitable strikes! In today's world, most people just can't avoid traveling. And because of the mobs of people going to the same airport, the stress has increased tremendously. Guns everywhere, bad tempered dogs glaring, cameras peeking at your every move...stressful! By the time you get to where you are going, you are tired out and yet you are expected to perform immediately.
So, how do you improve your odds against digestive tract rebellion (plus or minus), terminal tiredness or just a complete energy collapse? Here are 10 steps to reduce the risk of getting ill:
- Rehydrate yourself. Alcohol on a plane is an absolute thumper. The longer the flight, the worse the dehydration. Maybe the Dreamliner will solve this, but in the meantime, soda water every half hour or you'll get off the plane with gecko breath and an organ set like a bag of dried apples.
- Wash your hands each chance you get! Many colds and flus can be prevented by washing your hands each time you get back to your hotel or before you handle food and, of course, after you have been to the toilet. There are now bathrooms in most of the restaurants in developing countries. Sometimes, there are sinks, just at the back of the restaurant, for a quick wash before tucking in.
- Bring hand wipes or hand sterilizers. There are travel packs you can easily get in the supermarket. These will be handy if there are no facilities where you are. Besides, many times, people offer you food. You may also want to try something to eat as you travel around places. Or, you eat an orange which gets sticky on you.
- Make sure the water you drink is safe. This also holds true for water you use to brush your teeth. Best bet is to stick to drinking bottled water. Bring purification tablets or tincture of iodine and place a few drops in a glass of water, and let it stand for 20 minutes. It tastes disgusting but at 3 a.m. in the morning with the Sahara desert and one camel in your mouth, it is glorious. Too much use can be harmful, so try boiling the water when you can. Many hotel rooms have kettles for tea or coffee. Boil the water and pour it into all the glasses in the room. If you stay in a new place longer, buy a kettle and a jug. In many Asian hotels, your room will have a thermos which provides boiled water...maybe...boil, boil, and boil. Also, keep your mouth shut when taking a shower.
- Avoid ice in your drinks. If you are not sure of the restaurant, just ask for cold drinks.
- Wash fruits and vegetables in clean water. Again, boil the water you use. If this is not convenient, just stick to the fruits and vegetables that you can peel or shell yourself. Lots of travelers get the crud from eating or drinking something of ah...dubious origin. Remember what most fertilizer is! Sometimes, your stomach is just not used to the fruit. It may be too sour for you.
- Make sure food has been freshly and thoroughly cooked and is still piping hot. For buffet lovers, make sure you are there when the food has just been laid out. Two hours under the lights is not good for starlets or food. Forget uncooked shellfish. These can be suspect in some countries. Use ice cream and milk from reliable sources. Stay away from food that has been exposed to flies. Best of all, forget buffets...you always tank up and feel bloated anyway. Besides, you can get serious diseases like cholera, typhoid and hepatitis A from contaminated food and water.
- Try to eat a healthy balanced diet. Taking the precautions around fruits and vegetables, still be sure to eat lots of these. Also, whole-grain bread, pasta and rice. If you are on holiday, the odds are you will overeat. Think first. A massive traffic jam in the intestines is as bad as the other. Oh and remember, with hot food...the burn is not just the hellos...it is the agonizing goodbyes!
- Understand the power of the sun. The sun can be extremely strong in many destinations. Too much sun can age your skin and increase your risk of getting skin cancer. Cooked face is an inedible dish. Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses with proper UV filters. Get a decent ear-covering hat. Stay in the shade between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and manage your ambitions. You don't want to have heatstroke or sunstroke. Try to cover up and keep yourself hydrated with non-alcoholic drinks. Protect your children from the sun if they are traveling with you.
- If you are at all mobile, don't put your hands on handrails, especially on escalators. Wow...the stuff on those is unbelievable. If you're right-handed, flush with the left and open stall doors with the left.
- Use an insect repellent, and keep your arms and legs covered. You can catch tick-borne diseases in cooler countries, not just in the tropics. Animal bites can lead to serious - and even fatal - infections so, that cute dog over there...forget it.... just stay away.
Sometimes, even with extra care, we still get it. Remember, you have to flush it out...water, water, water.....maybe ginger ale...then more water. Your body will handle most of the minor trot ailments...don't panic...stay in the room and drink....water......boiled or bottled. In 12 hours, if you're still in trouble, it's doctor time. There are always international clinics or reputable ones the locals could refer you to. Even when you receive treatment in these, see your doctor immediately upon your return.