Avoid Hospital when travelling…it is possible
Hospital visits when travelling are not so great when you are the one in hospital. So to avoid hospital when travelling read up on our Top 10 picks and have a hospital free holiday!
10. Go slow up mountains
Altitude sickness sends hundreds of tourists to hospital each year. Men are at greater risk than women of altitude sickness which generally affects mountain climbers at around 2000 metres above sea level. Mt Everest sits at 8848 metres! The Himalayan countries of Nepal, India and Pakistan as well as China, Tibet, Bhutan and the Andes in South America average around the 6000 – 7000 metres. Even Mt Blanc in Europe sits at 4500 metres. The Rockies in the USA and Canada vary from between 2000 – 3000 metres.
The best advice to avoid hospital when travelling is to GO SLOW …. taking it easy allows for the body to adjust… this might also mean a longer holiday…. Better Health offers some great advice.
9. Use protection when mixing with the locals
It shouldn’t need to be said, but unfortunately “20% of travellers according to the Centres Disease, Control and Prevention say they have had casual sex whilst on their vacation.” STD’s (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) are on the rise in tourists… It definitely pays to use protection in the heat of the moment or a hospital visit may be an embarrassing necessity.
8. Learn about the local wildlife
Whether you are out in the wild in Africa or relaxing on a tropical island in Australia, there are plenty of risks. Elephants trampling tourists, hippo’s tipping travellers out of canoes, jelly fish stings, shark attacks, bear encounters that don’t end well… it pays to learn a little about the local wildlife and be respectful or a hospital visit is on the cards. Consider also that even the smallest animal such as a caterpillar can still pack some punch (I know by experience while visiting Borneo after finding one with the most enormous spikes stuck to my shirt and leaving me with a huge red, itchy rash). Do some research, keep alert, keep your distance and tread carefully! This way you are sure to avoid hospital when travelling.
7. Watch what goes in your drink
Sadly there are plenty of opportunists that pray on tourists so they can steal from them or harm them. A trend (particularly in the party hotspots of Asia and Europe) is to spike a travellers drink with drugs. As one traveller learnt – pulling out your wallet full of money is not a great idea in a crowded bar in Thailand… Fortunately for him, he realised his drink had been spiked and he got himself back to the hotel and had a friend look after him while the effects wore off over 3 days. (Having seen a Thai hospital, I would not recommend a visit). Women tend to be targeted by drink spiking more than men and it is now a worldwide issue. It’s nice to have someone buy you a drink, but consider the risk, it may not be worth it. Buy your own, buy drinks in bottles or cans and make sure you keep your drink with you at all times.
6. Try and stay reasonably sober
We all know when travelling, most people like to have a drink. Some even think it’s a good idea to try local drugs….Unfortunately this can get you into hot water and hospital. Being intoxicated on a plane will generally have you offloaded, being spaced out in a foreign country you run the risk of getting hurt and you may not be covered by travel insurance. You could also be mugged, get lost, get arrested, or worse still wake up and not remember where you are, who you were with and what happened. And drugs… don’t try them, I know of a groom that thought he would try a few puffs one night and fly the next day… unfortunately he was detained and “no wedding.” Consider the consequences.. a few drinks sure, have fun, but indulging too much is generally not worth it…
5. Limit risky activities and take insurance
Holidays are about doing stuff ! So you do. But… yes there is a but…. if you participate in a highly risky activity and are injured, and often people are.. broken legs, arms, whiplash, cuts, falls, then consider that you will have to visit a hospital and worse still, travel insurance may not cover you. I am the first one to encourage adventure… so for this reason I would highly recommend you take the right travel insurance to avoid hospital when travelling. World Nomads Travel Insurance is one of only a few Travel insurance companies that actually covers risky activities.
4. Motorbikes great fun, but bad news
We all love motorbikes and mopeds to get around, particularly in South East Asia as it is cheap and really fun. Sadly the stats tell us how dangerous it is “according to Motorbike Rider over 300,000 motorbike riders die annually around the world”. Admittedly these are not all tourists. Tourists though do die or are injured riding motorbikes or mopeds. Many because they do not have the experience or expertise to ride in a foreign country and often do not even have a licence to ride in their country of origin. Travel Insurance will generally not cover you if you are not a licensed rider. Instead make sure you have the correct bike licence, travel insurance, obtain an international driving permit if required and to lower the risk go with an escorted riding tour group, who have guides and backup.
3. Use Insect Spray and update your needles
According to Bill Gates, humans murder around 475,000 other humans each year. He goes on to point out that the tiny little nasty mosquito kills at least 725,000 humans annually. Bill is a great advocate for disease prevention and wants to reduce the toll that this annoying insect leaves on millions of humans, many with debilitating diseases such as Malaria and Dengue Fever and now the Zika Virus. Mosquito’s are prolific around the globe. The main prevention methods are to wear clothing they can’t penetrate such as denim or material with a tight weave, wear light colours, create a breeze (use a strong fan), use an insect net, avoid the hours they are out – around sunset and sunrise and use insect spray (Deet has been shown to be a good defence). It also pays to visit your doctor for the latest on prevention and to update any vaccinations.
2. Be careful with what you eat
Buying food at anytime overseas or even in your home country can be problematic. Is it safe to eat? What is in it? Will it be ok? We are not all blessed with cast iron stomachs and eating in foreign countries can upset many of us… “According to WHO 420,000 people die from eating contaminated food each year.” Here are some effective and simple food safety tips which could help you avoid a hospital visit.
- Wash your hands thoroughly or use disposable wipes or antibacterial hand gels before touching food
- Make sure whatever you choose is fresh and really well cooked and hot, this usually kills off most of the nasties
- If you can peel it, it should be safe
- If it is packaged, this should make it safer
- Eat where the locals eat – look for places with lots of people
- If you are wary of local food, try and eat in more “western” style restaurants and check reviews
- Keep healthy with supplements of vitamins and minerals
- Avoid food washed in possible contaminated water
- Avoid seafood if you are not sure if it is fresh and be aware if it is rinsed in the local water
So what do you do if you do get sick? Healthline provides some great information. Importantly, drink clean water (take some water purification tablets with you). If you are ill for more than a few days see a doctor (some food poisoning symptoms are very similar to other diseases), rest and ease back into eating simple food like stewed apples, rice, bananas, bland potatoes.
1. Drink Clean Water
3.4 million people die from water-related diseases each year according to WHO The World Health Organisation. There are some pretty horrible parasites and nasties that enjoy life in H2O. So clean water is an absolute must have when travelling! You may not like the idea of buying plastic water bottles or cans of soft drink, but unfortunately this is sometimes the only safe option. Particularly in remote or under developed countries. Even countries like Australia have issues with water quality in remote areas.
Our best safe water tips
- Buy bottled water or soft drink cans if the local water is unsafe to drink
- Buy enough for a few days so you don’t need to take any risks
- Keep your mouth shut in the shower
- Brush your teeth with clean water
- Take some purification tablets if you don’t have access to buying clean water locally
- Support organisations such as Water Aid to create clean water for everyone
The final word!
Staying safe and out of hospital should be easy if you follow our above tips.
Always consider Travel Insurance
The Author: Yvette Hayes has over 30 years experience working in the Travel Industry, Travelling the World, Teaching and is now dedicating her energy to the new start up – Bookmyowntravel.com (helping other like minded travellers find their own way!)
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