Digital Nomad Travel – Staying healthy.
Becoming ill on the road can quickly become a nightmare, language barriers and different medical practices can easily make it difficult to receive treatment. Whilst you can never guarantee that you won’t fall ill there are several steps you can take to give yourself the best chance of not.
Before you go
- Ensure that you have done some research on your destination. Read up on any current medical situations and try to find info on reliable medical care. You can find this information online or if needed you can contact your embassy.
- Check to see if vaccines are required, you may wish to check with your doctor several weeks in advance as some courses require administration weeks or even months before you arrive.
- Take a trip to the dentist, a quick dental exam can help you avoid unnecessary pain and expensive treatment abroad.
- Invest in travel insurance, even if you only get the basic coverage it is reassuring and can be incredibly helpful. See the article on travel insurance for more info.
- Pack a supply of non prescription medicines with you. Include things like paracetamol, allergy tablets, immodium, birth control and plasters. Whilst these are available in most countries having your own supply will be handy.
- Factor in geographical and meteorological aspects. High altitude poses a risk to children and those with breathing difficulties. Check the weather and pack accordingly, don’t get caught in the monsoons in just a pair of shorts.
- If you are European make sure you have an EHIC, this will allow low-cost or free emergency treatment in European Economic Area countries (EEA). You can apply for one here http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/EHIC/Pages/about-the-ehic.aspx
- Plane-robics. Fight off the fear of DVT by taking regular (if possible) walks to the toilet or up and down the train/plane. If you can’t walk around stretch as much as you can, wiggle your toes, do anything to keep the blood pumping.
- Keep yourself fed and watered but don’t over do it. To much food and drink can disrupt sleep, make you moody or possibly lead to stomach issues. No-one needs that on a long train journey.
Whilst you are there
- Check to ensure the water is safe to drink, if in doubt buy bottled water. Contaminated water is a direct route to tummy troubles most of us would like to avoid. As well as a severe case of the trots you are putting yourself at risk of cholera, typhoid, hepatitis A and other nasty little fiends. Safe drinks will include boiled water, hot drinks, canned goods and bottled water amongst others.
- Foreign lands offer a wealth of new and exciting foods to try, have fun but use your common sense. Does is look fresh or was it yesterday’s leftovers? Is the restaurant/bar/shanty shack moderately clean? Does the chef/cook/shanty shack owner look moderately clean? It’s difficult to tell sometimes but be cautious at all time and keep your fingers crossed.
- A simple rule with food for the backpacker/self caterer is Cook it, peel it, boil it or forget it!
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in vitamins if possible.
- Keep up your personal hygiene, this may be more difficult if you are trekking through the jungle but try to carry some wet wipes, a toothbrush and toothpaste at least. Wash your hands before eating, and after bathroom breaks and carry some deodorant, no one needs to smell you.
- Carry contraceptives and avoid unprotected sex.
- Carry sun cream and avoid unprotected sun bathing.
- Douse yourself in insect repellent if you are somewhere thick with insects. Various illnesses and diseases are spread through insect bites including malaria and Lyme disease. You really don’t want either of these so ensure you have a steady supply of DEET labelled repellent.
What if you fall ill?
- Try not to panic, provided you have been reading closely you’ve already done your research and have travel insurance! Find the local medical experts and let them cure you. Easy.
What to do when you return?
- Nothing really, keep an eye on your health and if you notice something unusual go straight to your doctor ensuring you tell them exactly where you have been.
- http://www.who.int/en/ (World Health Organization)
- https://www.gov.uk/browse/abroad/travel-abroad (UK Government site)