Getting sick when traveling
I was in Sabang in the Philippines getting ready for a trek along a monkey trail when I woke up during the night with a fever. It got worse. But that’s all next week …
In Pakistan I was projectile vomiting purple ooze …
In France and Spain I tore muscles in my leg …
In Africa, well … you name it I had it …
Now all that may or may not sound like a lot. But if you consider I’ve been traveling nearly 4.5 years now, I’ve done pretty well illness wise. The odd cold and bad kebab aside.
But when Illness does hit when traveling, it can be a pain. And, usually I have something to do and don’t want to miss. Or I am alone in a remote area.
I wrote up a personal Travel Medical woes page here. It covers a lot more than here. But here are some pointers I work from. Again this is my own personal medical check list.
Medical check list for travel:
1) I carry a small medical book called Lonely Planet’s Healthy Travel: Asia & India. I wrote up a review for it on my Travel Review section if you’d like to have a look. The book is a great resource for me in that if a stomach bug just won’t go away, it gives suggestions and, I keep forgetting what my temperature is meant to be!?
2) I carry a thermometer: one of those plastic ones. They don’t break so easily. I’ve rarely used it, but in the case of the below. It’s been important.
3) I am conscious and aware of Malaria zones: This is one bad thing I do not want to have in a remote area alone, again. There’s a lot of online advise about this, but a tropical disease clinic and getting the advice of a doctor who works in this field was of great help. It’s especially true as I’ve been through several different types of malaria zones.
4) I keep hydrated: One of the biggest causes of worsening illness in the tropics is a lack of water. And I sweat like crazy anyway so I drink plenty of water. And when sick, I’m not tight with my money and so I part with money for bottled water.
5) I tell everyone I am sick, like an old granny: Why? Simple. If things get bad, someone will notice me missing. They will knock on my door knowing I am sick, and not just trying to kick me out because I haven’t paid the bills. Moreover I’ve had people bringing me water, food, and supplies out of genuine care in many places.
6) I am really paranoid when buying medicine over the counter in another country, especially developing countries. Fake medicine is everywhere. I check what I am buying carefully. Making sure the packaging is sound, there’s strong print, and if at all possible I buy a brand name that I recognize. I also carry a who’s who of supplies with me that I know are real.
7) If it gets bad I seek out the help of a medical professional. I am not a doctor, and neither is anyone else online. I try getting to a big city if I am in a remote area. It’s easier that way. Expats can help here, as they generally have been around long enough to know where to go for a good doctor. My next choice is either the British Council or an embassy. I usually just call and ask for a recommended list of doctors.
Every country is different when you get sick
These are some of the basics I use when I get sick on the road. In every country there seems to be something new, though in the Philippines I’ve noticed that I’ve not been a sick even for a day. The odd bad portion of adobo aside.
Moreover I’ve noticed when a Filipino get’s a cold, it’s the end of the world for them! They tend to keel over faster than most others. That said, they have tough stomachs!
The monkey trail in Sabang, trying to get to the world’s longest underground river with a fever!
(disclaimer: the above information is based on my own personal experiences. I do not recommend anyone to follow what I do. However I do recommend anyone with any concerns with travel illness or sickness before, during or after traveling to consult with a qualified medical practitioner.)