Travelers’ diarrhea (TD) affects between 30% to 70% of travelers, depending on the destination and how careful one is about prevention. The best way to lower your risk is to follow the simple recommendations such as, “boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.” While you cannot control how food is prepared for you, you can check out your restaurant before eating.
- Inspect the bathroom for proper hand soap and a functioning sink.
- Look for a restaurant with a kitchen that is open and visible where there is nothing to hide.
- Request that you get no fresh vegetables with your food (even that lettuce and tomato on your burger!)
- Inspect your food thoroughly before eating it
- Wash your hands frequently and carry hand disinfectant for when you cannot
Upper Respiratory infections
Respiratory infections occur in approximately 20% of travelers. In one study, those who sat on an airplane for over 8 hours had a 50% rate of having a respiratory infection in the following week. Being in close contact with crowds of people coming from all over the world exposes you to a lot of new bacteria and viruses. You can prevent this by avoiding tight spaces with inadequate ventilation, not sitting or standing near someone who is visibly sick, avoid touching objects used by many hands (e.g., handrails, bathroom doorknobs, etc.) and frequent hand washing and hand sanitizer use.
Common skin complaints include sunburn, insect and spider bites, rashes and infections. Sunburn is best avoided with sunblock. Travelers most frequent mistake is to use too low of an SPF as they head south. A good rule of thumb is to increase your SPF by 10 for each 10 degrees of latitude. That means that if you use a 30 SPF at the beach in New York City, you should use at least 50 SPF in Cancún. Insect bites are best avoided by using an insect repellent with DEET, while spider bites are prevented by inspecting your surroundings beforehand (shake out your sheets and shoes prior to entering them). Rashes and infections should be diagnosed by a physician in order to find the best treatment.
Allergies are a frequent complaint. Travelers who suffer from seasonal allergies should pack their medication, even if it is winter at home as it may be spring where you are going. New plants and pollen can also bring on new allergic reactions. Unfamiliar foods are another culprit for unexpected allergic reactions so be sure to ask about ingredients if you have a food allergy.
Sprains and strains happen frequently while traveling. Never pack more than you can comfortably carry yourself. Don’t overload your carry-on to avoid the fee and end up throwing your back out for half your trip. When going on excursions, don’t try to do more exercise than you body can take. If you don’t exercise normally, a 10-mile hike may not be a good idea. When you do have a day of walking, make sure you have adequate hiking shoes, carry bottled water and don’t take any risks that may lead to a sprained ankle.
Remember, you can always find a medical provider at www.tripdoctor.com!