Adventure Travel 101: Staying Healthy While Traveling

trekking safari in South Africa
Kraig Becker

One of the biggest challenges that adventure travelers face is trying to stay healthy while visiting remote and exotic locales. After all, our travels might take us to some very exciting places, but we often face the real threat of dangerous diseases, bacteria, and parasites along the way too. But, with a bit of planning and preparation, you can usually avoid these problems, and stay healthy while visiting just about any destination on Earth. Here's how.

Vaccinations and Medications
Avoiding challenges to your health starts with having the proper medications and vaccinations for the place you are visiting. This is a topic so important that we even covered it in a previous edition of Adventure Travel 101. Be sure to check the website for the Center for Disease Control to determine which prescriptions and inoculations are recommended for the destination that you'll be visiting. A quick visit to your doctor or clinic should have you ready to go in no time at all, and help you avoid some serious threats to your health.

Carry a First Aid Kit
Typically when traveling domestically you don't tend to worry about getting the proper medical care or supplies that you'll need for your journey. That's because there are plenty of hospitals, clinics, and drugstores nearby should the need arise. But when your travels take you into remote areas far from urban centers, having a good first aid kit with you can make all of the difference. 

A well stocked first aid kit won't just have bandaids and aspirin. It will also contain medications to soothe an upset stomach, anti-diarreals, salves to fight infection, and much more. The kit should also have bandages and tape for treating more serious wounds, moleskin for treating blisters, antiseptic wipes, and a thermometer as well. In short, it should have an inventory that is designed to take on the wide variety of issues that you might face while traveling abroad. 

Avoid Over Exposure to the Sun
One of the most common issues that travelers face is getting a sunburn after spending too much time in the outdoors. This can happen more easily at higher altitudes or when visiting destinations that are closer to the equator, but it can strike just about anyone who has seen prolonged exposure to the intense rays of the sun.

Be sure to pack sunscreen and use it liberally throughout your trip. Also, be sure to wear clothing that is designed to protect you from the sun. This will keep your skin from getting roasted, which can in turn make you incredibly uncomfortable and possibly even very sick. Preventing this from happening is quite easy provided you are vigilant, and do so can have some long-term effects on your overall health. 

Don't Drink Untreated Water
Poor drinking water can also be a major source of concern for travelers, often leading to the dreaded Delhi belly. Bacteria in the water is usually to blame, although that same water can carry protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium too.

​Fortunately, avoiding these problems isn't particularly difficult. Simply treating the water with purification tablets or better yet UV light, will remove the vast majority of foreign elements in the water, making it perfectly safe to drink. Most water purification methods can't promise 100% effectiveness of course, but the numbers are high enough that when used properly, the chances of getting sick drop to infinitesimally low levels.

​Bottled water is also an option of course, but be sure to check the seals on the bottle before drinking. If the seal is compromised in any way, ask for a new bottle or don't drink it. The water inside could be contaminated and might make you very sick. 

Stay Hydrated
Another common issue that travelers face is heat exhaustion and simple dehydration. Drinking plenty of fluids can help overcome this challenge, keeping you feeling good and fully energized. This is true whether you're visiting a warm weather destination or a cold one, as proper hydration is just as important when the temperature drops as it is when the sun is sweltering. Be sure to always carry a water bottle with you when you hit the road. You'll definitely be happy you did. 

These are some basic rules of thumb to help keep you healthy while traveling. As you can probably tell, a bit of common sense and preventive medicine can go a long way to ensuring you remain strong and healthy throughout your journey. And if you should find yourself feeling a bit under the weather, being prepared to handle it will get you back on your feet again before you know it. 

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