My dear travellers, today I have for you a very important and needed entry regarding health and our safety during the journey. Many factors contribute to a successful journey, and one of the most important is the knowledge and awareness of situations that may (although they do not have to be preventive at all!) Meet us in various corners of the earth. Discovering new, often unfamiliar places is fantastic, but somewhere in this eurofia, an ambush, crazy taking pictures of subsequent landscapes and trying the next exotic dishes, there must be a place for a rational approach to taking care of yourself.
If somebody thinks that he is untouchable and on vacation or on a journey of dreams only beautiful situations happen in film, he is unfortunately wrong. Regardless of what is the purpose of our journey and what is its nature, taking care of health must be the number one of all activities. During the holiday period, the frequency of trips increases, but this trend is slowly changing and travels appear throughout the year. And more and more often these are remote, tropical and culturally different places. This means that – especially in a new place – we must be well prepared for all possible situations, so that we can easily enjoy the journey.
The quality of life and sanitary conditions in Europe are very high, and we are used to it and often we do not know how many aspects we need to pay attention to during a stay in another country, especially one that is less developed, has a different bacterial flora or diseases that do not occur in our home country.
Let’s also overthrow the myth that, with short trips, such as in Europe, we can wave our hand for proper preparation. It does not matter whether we are going to Croatia for a week or a month’s trip to the Amazon. The principles of caring for health, safety and widely understood travel prophylaxis apply to EVERYWHERE.
I am not here to scare you, but to share with you my travel experience and what I have often learned about health on the go. Most important, however, is the fact that most of dangerous situations and diseases can be easily avoided by following the basic principles of PREVENTION, ie prevention in advance.
Remember that vaccinations before departure are the basis, but the vaccinations alone do not protect us from infection, so our main goal is to prevent any disease from being infected. And for that we have some security rules in everyday functioning.
That’s why today I am in a hurry and I have gathered for you the most important rules that we travellers must know and apply. Because we agree, there is nothing worse than being sick on the road.
In the first place, we should remember about water. It is contaminated water and food prepared on it that are among the most common causes of traveler’s illness. Especially when it comes to poorly developed countries, which are a frequent destination of exotic travels. Diseases that can be infected by infected water are, for example, travelers’ diarrhea, typhoid fever, type A jaundice or cholera (hence the vaccination for these diseases is definitely recommended, because contrary to appearances, they are not rare).
The easiest way to treat water is to cook it, because it kills all pathogenic bacteria, viruses and parasites. If it is not possible to boil water (eg during survival expeditions), it is worthwhile to obtain chemical treatment agents containing iodine, chlorine or silver compounds, or modern microfiltering filters (portable point-of-use).
RULES YOU NEED TO REMEMBER
1. Drink only bottled water
(with a closure protected with foil that is not used in Poland) or canned. Even in restaurants, order water in a bottle, not one that will be served in a jug or directly in a glass.
Warning! In India, I met with cases that the water sold in street kiosks was poured into plastic bottles from the well, and then with a lighter the cork was melted to make it look pre-bottled (!). There is a patent for it: always squeeze the bottle with water firmly, if the cork does not fire, it means that the bottle was closed at the factory and you can boldly drink it.
2. Avoid drinks with ice coming from an unknown source
Like you remember about bottled water, but how hot it is, man does not pay attention that tap water can also be found in our juice or drink. Inspecting the source of water used seems like a miracle, so I use a simple rule – in the tropics I never drink ice-cold drinks. Believe me, it can be experienced, and the problem of wondering if it would be good water for sure, disappears as the hand took away.
3. Wash fruits and vegetables with bottled or boiled water
Remember – the same principle as using ice – washing food with tap water or well is no different to drinking it, because bacteria and viruses will just stay on the food. Even after washing, always take them out. You can also burn the skin with boiling water, which will kill most of the germs.
4. Avoid foods that have not been cooked sufficiently
High temperatures and humidity, as well as poor food storage conditions, make it vulnerable to an increase in the number of microorganisms that can cause infection. This particularly applies to meat, eggs, seafood and dairy products. Do not eat undercooked food and food that you are not sure that it has undergone heat treatment or, for example, has been out of the refrigerator for a long time. Contrary to appearances, it is not difficult to travel, for example stalls in Southeast Asia are a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses and fungi. Just look at the raw meat or fish, which without a refrigerator lie on the countertops for many hours, and should turn on you a warning lamp. Another example – Cuba and famous cakes with whipped cream sell on the street at 30 degrees (without a refrigerator). We definitely say NO to such snacks.
5. Watch out for street eateries and stalls
I know, I know, you will be outraged right now, because how to go to a new place and not try the local cuisine at the points where mainly locals eat and usually very cheap. I’m not saying no, but just be careful. Try to choose those in which there is a lot of traffic, so the food has to be prepared on a regular basis, and try the dishes cooked and fried. In addition, pay attention to what these dishes are served – ideally, these are disposable plates and cutlery, and not, for example, plastic reusable. All you have to do is look closely at the place to see that your plate after the predecessor has just been roughly rinsed in a large bowl of water that has been there for several hours and has more bacteria in it than you can imagine.
6. Brush your teeth with water from the bottle or boiled
Sounds fancy? But it is not. Every experienced traveler will tell you that the first moment you arrive at an exotic place is to put a bottle of mineral water in the bathroom. For example, to remember about her when brushing your teeth, because we do not have a reflex to rinse the mouth with water from the bottle. I will go even a step further – you can also wash your face with such water, and if you think that it is too much, always, but always close your mouth washing your mouth or bathing in the shower (and then dry the face and the mouth area with a towel) by accident, do not swallow water. It’s still the same tap water that we try to avoid, and sometimes one drop is enough to poison. Believe me, I did it in India – precisely because I forgot to close my mouth, washing my hair in the shower.
7. Wash your hands often and always wipe them
Frequent washing shortens life – says the adage, but not this time. Hand hygiene is an absolute foundation. Always wash them before eating and use soap. Additionally, remember to dry your hands with a towel – for the same reasons as above – to avoid mouth contact or food with water. And, best of all, have a MUST HAVE with you every traveler – an alcohol-based disinfectant gel – and use it even after washing your hands. customized fuzzy socks