Thirty years of extensive travel have left me with a wealth of wonderful memories, and a wealth of medical "experiences" and near crises. This is not an exhaustive list of medical tips, but a personal one. Some are standard and well-known but some will be new. Would love to hear your own. Tweet me @jeanewmanglock to be included in my next "crowd sourced" article.
Here are my top tips...
1. Get a flu shot. The worst flu I ever had was after a transatlantic flight.
2. Don't pet stray animals -- they are sweet and Instagram gold, but they also carry ringworm. Happened to me in Italy.
3. Beware of packs of dogs. They may be gentle when alone but dangerous together. I had to jump on the back of a truck passing by to escape a dog fight between packs on Kadavu in Fiji.
4. If you are bitten by a dog (same incident) on Fiji you need not fear rabies--they don't have it. But get it cleaned and be glad your tetanus vaccine is up to date.
5. Always make sure ALL your vaccines are up to date. You don't want to add to the risk getting one in a country that may have substandard medical care. I remember looking for a pharmacy to sell sterile needles at midnight in the old Soviet Union to take to the hospital for a shot.
6. If stung by a sting ray in Belize (have someone pee on it) and don't step on live coral when running out of the ocean. It will grow inside your foot and you will need surgery. You will know if it is happening by the next day. Head home.
If you can't drink the water....
7. Close your eyes and mouth in the shower. Obvious but not instinctive.
8. Eat lots of yogurt. No raw vegetables, or unpeeled fruits-- no matter how they tell you they are washed.
9. Chew a pepto bismal tablet daily. May be a placebo but works for me.
10. Take antibiotic eye drops if traveling to polluted countries. Within 4 hours of landing in Beijing on a very polluted day, my eye was infected.
11. Many travelers are wearing masks, like the locals, in polluted cities. I just have not been able to do this yet.
To Purell or not to Purell?
12. Money is dirtiest thing you will touch. ALWAYS wash your hands or use hand sanitizers after touching.
13. You have heard, but it bears repeating, the tray on plane and remote in your hotel room or cabin are filthy.
14. Clean your phone /phone case often. It is likely dirtier than the money.
15. Use hand sanitizer wherever available on the ship, and it will be available everywhere.
16. Fist pumps over handshakes are now (wisely) becoming standard, even on the top 5 star ships.
17. Fernet Branca cures sea sickness--or was that Captain just trying to get me drunk?
18. Make sure you have evacuation insurance if traveling to less developed regions. You want to be able to come home if you are seriously injured or very ill.
19. If all else fails and your personal medical kit (next post) is not working, go to a local pharmacy. They often can prescribe without a prescription and understand local problems. There is a "magic" shot they give in Egypt that I fear endorsing but gets me back up and going every time.
20. But most of all, have fun and enjoy your travels. My immunity level, worldwide, must be very high now. For all my travels, to the ends of the earth, this list is pretty petty. I also promise, that what will be right around the next corner...will be worth it. What are your top tips?