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Is there anything worse than being ill far away from home? Looking after your health is just as important as your personal safety. But, how do you stay healthy on the road?
Matthew Kepnes, Nomadic Matt, has been traveling around the world since 2006, and apart from the occasional lapse, he keeps on traveling safely, so we invited him to share the secret of his health success with us.
If you travel long enough, you will eventually get sick. It's one of the worst possible things that could happen on your trip. It's not only physically draining but you feel down because you are in a beautiful new city and you're stuck in bed.
Luckily, over my years traveling, I've only been sick a few times. I spent my week in Madrid in bed with the flu. I missed Christmas in Australia because of a fever. I spent a few days in the bathroom because of bad food.
But in my experience, if you practice basic health and sanitation common sense, you'll avoid getting sick.
So, some general health tips for the road that mom would be proud of you for following:
Make sure you check with your local doctor for any vaccinations you may need. Typhoid, hepatitis, and tetanus are the basic shots to get and, if you are going to a malaria zone, make sure you get malaria pills. Traveling in Southeast Asia usually means you also will need a Japanese encephalitis shot. For more information, consult your doctor before you leave. They will have the most up to date information. In general, it's important to get all your shots and treatments before you go because you don't want to take any chances. Make sure you carry your vaccination book as some countries want to see it before you enter.
In many parts of the world (Asia and Latin America, for example) it's very easy to resupply medications over the counter (no prescription needed). After a short visit to a pharmacy in Bangkok, I had all the emergency antibiotics and stomach tablets I needed without any prescriptions. Don't feel like you need to bring a portable pharmacy with you. If you are really stuck for something on the road, you should be able to find it.
Basic hygiene, a well a balanced diet, and common sense – like avoiding sick people and keeping clean – will go a long way in ensuring you don't end up spending a week sick in a dorm room, but are out enjoying the trip you've spent so long thinking about.
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