“Adventure is worthwhile in itself.” Amelia Earhart
Going on an adventure trip can be extremely exciting. Exploring new places, seeing incredible sights, and participating in thrilling activities makes for an unforgettable experience.
However, all that adventure can also take a toll on your body if you’re not careful. New environments, food and water sources, and physical activities can stress your immune system and make you prone to illness if the proper precautions aren’t taken.
Getting sick while traveling can damper your experience.
You likely want to immerse yourself in the adventure, not stuck in your hotel room. Being proactive and implementing some preventative measures can help you stay healthy, energized, and ready to take on all the activities your exciting destination offers.
Before departing on your trip, take some time to research the area you’ll be visiting thoroughly. This will help you identify risks and come prepared.
Here are some key things to look into:
- What medical facilities are available nearby in case of an emergency? Make a note of any doctors, clinics, or hospitals near where you’ll be.
- Are there any necessary or recommended vaccinations for your destination? Check if you need typhoid, hepatitis A, yellow fever, malaria medication, etc.
- Is the local food and water safe, or must you take precautions? Only drink bottled/filtered water in places with contaminated tap water.
- Are there specific infectious diseases that are prevalent in the area you’re going to? For example, dengue fever, norovirus, etc. Take measures to avoid mosquito bites if needed.
- What are the altitude and climate conditions you’ll be facing? High elevations can cause altitude sickness. Extreme heat or cold requires preparation.
Thorough research of your destination will allow you to pinpoint risks and pack properly to have everything you need to stay healthy and safe on your adventure.
Be sure to pack smart and include health-related items you may need:
- Medications and supplements you usually take, plus extras in case of delay
- Motion sickness medication for windy roads or boat rides
- Hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, and tissues to promote hygiene
- A water bottle with a built-in water filter so you can drink tap water safely
- Strong DEET insect repellent spray and permethrin-treated clothing if the location warrants it
- Plenty of high SPF, waterproof sunscreen, and lip balm
- Prescription documentation in case you need medications replaced
Packing correctly will give you the tools to handle minor medical issues and combat illness.
Packaging your schedule full of activities from morning to night can be tempting when visiting exciting new places. However, adequate sleep is essential in maintaining your immune function and energy level, especially when traveling. Be sure to:
- Take short naps during the day if you need an energy boost
- Choose early nights over late nights full of partying and alcohol intake, which can quickly exhaust you
- Use earplugs or sleep masks if necessary to block excess noise and light for quality rest
- Try soothing teas, meditation music, or sleep aids like melatonin if you are struggling with insomnia
Proper rest will help you avoid fatigue and prepare for each day’s adventures.
Dehydration is widespread when traveling since people sweat more in warm climates, get sick with vomiting or diarrhea, or forget to drink enough water consistently throughout the day. Prevent dehydration by:
- You are drinking water or electrolyte beverages even when you don’t feel thirsty. Aim for several liters per day based on your sweat rate.
- Having a reusable water bottle on hand at all times for easy access to water
- Drinking an extra 1-2 glasses after vigorous exercise, heat exposure, vomiting, or diarrhea to replenish lost fluids.
- Opting for water, fruit juice, coconut water, and other unsweetened beverages instead of sugary drinks or alcohol, which can cause fluid loss
- I am consuming hydrating foods with high water content, like fruits, veggies, yogurt, soup, etc.
Proper hydration will keep your energy and immunity high.
One of the easiest ways to get sick in a foreign destination is through contaminated food and water.
Be very cautious about what you eat and drink:
- For food, stick to hot cooked dishes as much as possible rather than raw fruits/veggies, which can harbor bacteria.
- Avoid raw or undercooked meats, fish, eggs, and shellfish, which may contain dangerous pathogens.
- Only eat fruits and veggies that you can peel yourself, preferably cooked. Avoid pre-cut produce.
- Be wary of street food vendors with questionable refrigeration, cooking devices, utensils, and hygiene practices.
- If consuming dairy products, make sure they are pasteurized. Only drink pasteurized juices.
Intelligent food choices will help protect your digestive system.
One of the greatest methods to stop the dissemination of pathogens that can make you ill, especially in unfamiliar situations, is to wash your hands regularly and correctly.
Always wash your hands:
- After using the restroom, changing diapers, touching animals, garbage, money, etc.
- Before handling food or eating
- Upon entering your home or hotel room after being in public
- After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose
- Anytime they are visibly soiled
- If soap is unavailable, use alcohol-based sanitizer with 60% alcohol or higher
- Dry hands thoroughly since wet surfaces quickly transfer microbes
Developing good hand hygiene habits is critical to staying healthy.
Getting up-to-date on recommended vaccinations for your destination is a great preventative measure. Vaccines prime your immune system against specific illnesses that are prevalent in certain regions like:
- Hepatitis A – Recommended for virtually all travelers due to food/water contamination risks
- Typhoid – Recommended for most travelers going to developing countries
- Yellow Fever – Required for travel to certain parts of Africa and South America
- Malaria – If traveling to a malaria hot zone, take preventative medication, not an actual vaccine
- Rabies – For trekking areas with stray dogs or wildlife contact
- Japanese Encephalitis – For travel to some rural parts of Asia where this is common
- Routine vaccines – Confirm tetanus, MMR, meningitis, shingles, flu shot, etc., are up to date
Vaccines provide vital protection you may lack if you have never been exposed to certain diseases prominent in developing regions.
Motion sickness is caused by mixed signals sent to your brain during travel. A variety of remedies can help prevent or minimize nausea:
- Take medication like Dramamine or Bonine, which blocks nausea signals
- Use natural remedies like ginger candy, tea, or essential oil
- Wear acupressure wristbands to apply pressure to nausea points
- Get fresh air from an open window or vent pointed at your face
- Focus gaze on the horizon as a fixed visual reference point
- Avoid activities that conflict with motion, like reading, using devices, sitting backward, etc.
Having solutions handy will allow you to comfortably enjoy boat rides, long winding roads, and other transportation methods prone to causing sickness.
It’s important to avoid overexerting yourself physically on a demanding adventure trip. Heat, high altitude, and other stresses can take a toll on your body if you are not careful:
- Gradually acclimate to high elevations and stay hydrated. Descend immediately if showing signs of altitude sickness.
- Avoid overly rigorous activities like climbing until adjusted to the elevation for a few days.
- Take frequent rest breaks, drink water consistently, and utilize cooling techniques like wet bandanas when exerting yourself in heat.
- Wear sun protection diligently, as UV exposure is more significant at high altitudes and near the equator.
- Listen to warning signs from your body like nausea, dizziness, headaches, shortness of breath, etc., and stop the activity immediately.
Knowing your limits will keep you safe.
Hopefully, you won’t get injured or seriously ill, but be prepared in case you do:
- Know where the nearest clinic or hospital is located relative to where you will be
- Consider getting travel insurance with medical evacuation coverage in case you require hospitalization
- Don’t hesitate to see a local doctor if concerning symptoms persist or worsen
- Inform doctors of any pre-existing conditions, medications, or allergies you have
- Bring prescription medications in original containers and have a signed doctor’s note
- If going to extremely remote areas, pack a medical kit and supplies
Getting proper treatment quickly is vital when away from home. Don’t downplay seemingly minor symptoms that could worsen.
Staying healthy on an exciting adventure trip is very doable with proper preparation, good daily habits around food, water, hygiene, rest, medical treatment, and intelligent limit-setting. Implementing some preventative measures will help ensure you get all the incredible experiences your destination offers. Have a fun, safe and healthy trip!
A: Avoid or limit alcohol, which causes dehydration and lowered immunity. It also impairs judgment.
A: Research destination options in advance. Notify your tour operator. Pack suitable snacks and supplements.
A: If lasting more than 3 days or having concerning symptoms like blood, high fever or vomiting. Drink fluids and consider antibiotics.