Staying Healthy on the Road
From one region to the next, everything can change: health standards, disease risks, food customs, medical facilities, and environmental dangers (flora, fauna, climate and geography). These health tips assume that only you can control your part of the equation.
- Make sure you've got travel health insurance. Carry the necessary information with you, and know what it means. If anything happens, you want to make it as easy as possible to get cared for.
- You may also want to become a member of IAMAT (the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers). It's free to join, and gives you access to a worldwide network of physicians who speak English and have been trained in North America or Europe.
- Keep a basic medical kit on you.
- Whenever you're unsure, avoid undercooked meat and seafood, raw vegetables and salad. Cooked food should be served steaming hot.
- Boil or purify drinking water if in doubt.
- Are you travelling in malaria zone? Protect yourself: mosquito nets and repellent.
- If sex is a part of the adventure, make it safe sex.
- Wear your seatbelt.
- Take care around animals, and don't get bitten. Rabies is not pleasant.
- Swim safe, and be aware of dangers: rocks below the surface, undertow, waterborne disease, and dangerous water critters.
Staying Safe on the Road
Unfortunately, there are sketchy characters in all countries. Experience builds perception: the more people you meet, the better you'll be able to pick out scams and other trouble - and even better, who's being genuine. Some tips:
- Be aware. Be cautious. Be confident.
- Act courteously, but stay sceptical, especially of those who seem too friendly. Take a similar tack with people asking for help: do they seem genuine? Is what they're asking reasonable? Are you giving something without collateral? Are you willing to part forever with what you're giving?
- Know standard prices and rates for taxis, accommodation, tours, and other goods and services before being sold on something. If the price isn't cool, negotiate (if appropriate), stay firm, and be ready to walk away.
- Take precautions against pickpockets, especially if you're wearing a large backpack; it's not always easy to feel someone sneaking into your bag. Cover or seal pockets, attach zipper fobs together, leave outer pockets empty or fill with decoys, carry essentials inside your clothes, and don't broadcast the presence of valuables or wealth.
The next few tips are worthwhile for everyone, but especially women. No one wants you to be afraid; just be informed and take care of yourself. Going to a party? Go with a group of friends, and watch out for each other. If you're drinking, moderation is a good call; at least make sure one from your group is sober enough to keep an eye out.
- Take precaution against drugged drinks: don't leave your beverage unattended, or accept drinks from open containers.
- Don't let yourself get isolated with someone you don't trust.
- Knock at the door? Only let in those you know, and trust. If you feel you're being followed, cross the street and go to the nearest open business or occupied dwelling.
- If you know you're in trouble, act without hesitation. Do whatever you can to draw attention to the situation.