Sick on the road: health risks to watch for while traveling

Other, Tips & Facts

Sick on the road: health risks to watch for while traveling

No Comments 20 March 2013

It hits my friend Amber first on a ferry ride from Laem Ngop to Koh Chang.

“I don’t feel so good,” she says as we sit at the back of the boat.

I brush it off as a bit of motion sickness and feel for her after seeing the state of the toilets on this boat. But I can’t ignore my own queasiness for too much longer.

“I don’t really either,” I say to her about ten minutes later.

We both spend the rest of our cruise and a bumpy ute drive to our accommodation holding back everything that wants to come up until we reach our accommodation and retreat to our own huts.

Only problem with mine is that I’m sharing it with a guy I really like, but have only been seeing for six months. I’m really not prepared to show him me at the worst of times, but my body doesn’t care about that, only purging out absolutely everything that’s contaminating it.

I spend the next eight days in the concrete slab bathroom attached to my hut on a hot and sticky Thai island thinking back on what could have possibly made me sick. I settle on two hard boiled eggs that I actually knew I shouldn’t have eaten while I was eating them.

No beaches, pad thai or buckets of booze for me and I could care less about the lunar cycle. The best things about my trip to SE Asia at this very moment is that I have access to my own private non-squat toilet with paper.

Charcoal. Lots of water. Vitamin C. Time. This will pass.

It’s impossible to control and sometimes more likely that you will get sick on a trip. During my travel I’ve had just about every sort of sickness and ailment: sun-poisoning, dehydration, food poisoning, poison oak and bed bugs to name a few, and though the experience hasn’t been pleasant, I made it through without seeing a doctor once.

Getting sick on a trip, shouldn’t haunt you, but you should take preventive actions and be prepared if in case you do get sick. Most problems that arise on the road are treatable without the help of a doctor or completely unavoidable. Before heading out, check for dangers and annoyances surrounding your destination. Be aware of these basic sicknesses common to travelers and steps to avoiding or curing them.

Warts, burns, rashes

Plantar warts, allergic reactions, sun burns and more. This ailment isn’t pretty, but usually won’t have you bedridden.

Where you’ll catch it: A rash or break out could merely be due to a change in products or foods, plantar warts can be caught from the floors of hostel showers and sun burns are usually self-inflicted.

Prevention: Be aware of your allergies and read ingredients of new products if you do have any severe allergies. Product regulations are different from country to country, so it’s really important to pay attention to what’s in the products you’re using. Be sure to always wear footwear in bathroom facilities and know when you’ve had enough sun.

Treatment: Most of these are treated with the use of over the counter ointments and creams. Ask the pharmacist to recommend one for your problem. As a rule of thumb, moisturizer will help with itching, unless that particular lotion is the problem, and Aloe Vera will help with sun burns.

Animal bites and reactions

From heavy bleeding to poisonous snake bites to rabies, this is never a problem to be taken lightly.

Where you’ll catch it: Jungles, forests or animal-related travels are more hazardous, but any time you come in contact with an animal there’s a possibility of it biting or hurting you.

Prevention: If you know you’ll be working with animals you should contact a doctor as well as a travel specialist or government office to find out what prescriptions or vaccines are recommended and required. As a rule of thumb, be extremely careful when dealing with wild animals and never put any animals in a position when they feel threatened.

Treatment: Usually you’ll know the source of your bite, so it won’t be a guessing game. Depending on what bit you and how severe, follow a plan of action according to that. If the a minor bite that starts to swell or turn yellow, it might be infected, in which case you’ll need anti-septic and possibly antibiotics. At any point you feel extremely ill and know you’ve been bit, seek a doctor’s advice.

Stomach pain, dehydration and sun stroke

A number of things could cause queasiness or stomach problems, whether it be motion sickness, a bug bite, food poisoning, dehydration or sun stroke.

Where you’ll catch it: Absolutely anywhere, but especially in areas known to have contaminated waters and hot climates.

Preventative: Make sure you’re fully hydrated and avoid drinking contaminated water completely. If you’re in a country where they recommend visitors not drink the tap water, don’t test it and ask for no ice with your drinks. Don’t eat anything you’re uncomfortable with and stay away from restaurants that don’t look right to you. You never really know, but go with your gut. Don’t overdue it in the sun.

Treatment: Stomach aches, diarrhea and vomiting are usually just your body’s way of passing something, so you really just need to let the sickness run it’s course. On top of that, make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Try charcoal tablets to calm your stomach and vitamin c to restore your body’s natural health. If the problem persists for more than a week without getting better or you start to vomit or poop blood, it’s time to see someone.

Plant reactions

After a day of hiking you can’t stop itching one spot on your leg, or you start to feel quesy and begin to wonder what those berries were you tried earlier. Plant reactions are annoying but usually completely treatable and even preventable.

Where you’ll catch it: Usually you’ll have these problems in forests or jungles.

Preventative: Don’t touch or eat any plants you see in the jungle or forest. That said, while you can completely avoid eating or deliberately picking up something that could harm you, you can’t help brushing against things.

Treatment: Things like poison oak and ivy will go away with time, but it’s important to stop them from spreading. Always shower and wash your clothes when returning from a hike in areas known to have plants like these. The itching is due to dry skin, so use lotion for comfort. Unless you’re Bear Grylls you probably shouldn’t eat anything at all from the wild. If you have and start to feel sick, see someone. While you could research what the plant was and whether or not it will kill you, it might not be safe to take that chance.

Insect bites and bed bugs

While uncomfortable itching is the most normal annoyance from these two pests, it could get a lot worse.

Where you’ll catch it: This is another, it can happen anywhere problem, but in regards to mosquito bites, be especially cautious in areas with malaria warnings. It’s impossible to predict what accommodation has bed bugs, it’s a serious problem that grimy hostels and five-star hotel alike struggle with.

Preventative: Use insect repellent and bed nets to stop mosquito bites. If you’re traveling to an area with a malaria warning, see a specialist before for recommended prescriptions. Check your mattress before jumping into bed at a hotel or hostel for red dots and never put your suitcase on a bed to avoid serious bed bug problems. Further bug bites are hard to avoid other than to say don’t antagonize an insect.

Treatment: If you begin to feel seriously ill and are in an area prone to malaria, it’s probably not a good idea to put off fixing that and get tested straight away. Malaria treatment is dependent on the particulars of your case, so it’s important to seek medical attention.

Bed bugs are almost impossible to prevent, so don’t feel bad if you do get them and don’t go crazy on your hotel receptionist either. They’re a nuisance for everyone. Luckily, they don’t fly or jump, so most likely will only move from the bed onto your skin and any clothes you’ve worn or had on your bed. As soon as you notice common bed bug bites, change hotel rooms. Shower and if you can, get rid of whatever clothes you used in bed, otherwise wash and freeze them. It’s really important to stop them from spreading or to carry them with you from the hotel to your home.

For other bug bites, if you see the insect and know it’s poisonous, obviously see someone. If you don’t know what bit you and the bite begins to swell puss, turn yellow or open up more and more with time, it’s time to see a doctor for antibiotics and ointments.

Note: This list does not include STIs or STDs nor breaks and fractures due to high risk activities. It is not to be replaced with the advice of a doctor and if you feel you do have to see someone about your travel sickness then do it. This is merely a list of common problems I’ve noticed might be more prevalent while traveling and how to treat mild cases, so you can stop Googling and go to sleep without worrying that you’re going to die.

This is a very basic list of sicknesses people might encounter when traveling. What has happened to you and how have you dealt with it?

Rice cooker vomiting image by esSos.de.

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The price of travel around the world-meals

Australia, Destinations, England, New Zealand, Other, Thailand, Tips & Facts, USA

The price of travel around the world-meals

5 Comments 30 August 2012

We’ve decided to finish off this series the same way a lot of people would finish off a vacation, with a meal.

Earlier this week we covered cheap eats including street foods and meals on the go. This post is dedicated to longer, sit-down, restaurants or just more upmarket meal prices while traveling. However, don’t expect the price of each country’s top restaurants. That will almost always be expensive. These meal prices are at budget-friendly restaurants.

You’ve drank your beer, stayed some place nice, mastered a country’s public transportation system and eaten a few cheap tasty treats along the way. Now it’s time to sit back and dig in. Here is the price of meals around the world brought to you by 14 featured bloggers.

Meal world price guide

Country Food Blogger
USA $10-15 Runaway Juno
Australia AUD$13-25 ($13.50-25.85) yTravel Blog
New Zealand NZD$20 ($16) BackpackingMatt
England £10-15 ($15.85-23.75) The Aussie Nomad
Spain €12 ($15) Christine in Spain
Germany €5-10 ($6.25-12.50) Travels of Adam
Turkey TRY5-8 ($2.75-4.40) Iced Chai
India INR40-200 ($0.70-3.50) Globetrotter Girls
Egypt EGP15 ($2.50) Iced Chai
Iran N/A Iced Chai
Indonesia (Bali) RP40,000 ($4.20) Sit Down Disco
Thailand THB200 ($6.75) Heels and Wheels
South Korea KRW3,400-11,300$3-10 Waegook-Tom
Colombia COP14,600-18,300($8-10) 20-Something Travel

Additional information from participating bloggers on the price of meals around the world

  • Backpacking Matt recommends visiting a pub in New Zealand for one of its budget nightly feeds.
  • Chris, the Aussie Nomad, uses a curry meal at a restaurant on London’s Brick Lane as an example of the prices given above.
  • Travels of Adam’s prices range from a good meal to an excellent meal with drink.
  • Christine in Spain’s price is for the menu del dia (lunch special which includes a starter, main course, dessert, bread and drink).
  • Lavanya at Iced Chai gave the same information for cheap eats and meals in Iran.
  • Globetrotter Girls Dani and Jess have given a wide range of meal prices in India. These price points range between more expensive restaurants in non-tourist areas to meals at tourist restaurants in beach destinations.
  • Adam at Sit Down Disco’s price is for a cafe meal with non-alcoholic drink in Bali.
  • I supplied the price above for Thailand. This price is for an average restaurant in the country, not street food, including a drink and a starter.
  • In South Korea, Waegook-Tom says it’s hard to try Korean barbecue on a budget when solo traveling. He says it’s best to round up a few people to share the cost. If this isn’t an option and you want something authentic, he recommends Korea’s “orange restaurants” named so because of their signage. He says one of the priciest meals there, donkkasseu (pork cutlet) with kimbap, should cost no more than $US6. The cheapest meal there, rabokki – ramen mixed with spicy rice cakes, costs about $US3. The higher end prices he mentions are for pizza and fried chicken at a non-chain store.
  • Stephanie at Twenty-Something Travel says her price in Colombia is for “a non-set meal at a slightly nice place”.

Note: Exchange rates were calculated on 30 August 2012 using XE and are the approximate conversion. These rates change constantly, so check the most current exchange rate before any trip.

Also, prices vary throughout a country, especially larger ones like the USA. If you do not agree with the price provided, please write about it below and we’ll adjust our chart.

Is there another country you would like to see in this post? It’s an open post, so share the price of meals in another country of the world in our comments section and we’ll add your tip to the chart.

Thanks to all our bloggers for their help!

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How to use New Year’s resolutions for travel

Other, Tips & Facts

How to use New Year’s resolutions for travel

4 Comments 30 January 2012

The new year is in full force, which means most people have already given up on those resolutions they created in their head when they were counting down. This year, more than ever, it’s imperative to keep up with them, because if the Mayans have anything to do with it, 2012 could be our last year on earth.

So instead of seeing resolutions as hinderances on life that force us all to give up and give away more than we’d like, use your resolutions as a means of giving something back to yourself. This year, why not focus your resolutions on taking that dream vacation or round-the world journey you’ve always dreamed of, something to give yourself light at the end of the tunnel.

The most common resolutions can actually be great ways to save up, here’s how. 

Lose weight

Photo courtesy of Amanda M.

This is the resolution that plagues women from 17-70 all over the world. So ladies, instead of signing ourselves up for expensive diet programs or buying heaps of low-calorie cook books, why don’t we all just do it the old fashion way and eat less.

Minimize portions at home and maybe instead of buying an appetizer and main meal in restaurants, just choose one of the two. All the money saved on buying less food, can go towards accommodation.

To add to the common weight loss campaign, people will resolute to start hitting the gym in January. The problem is that they’ll grow tired of this come February, which is a huge waste of money considering how much gym memberships cost and that they usually require a contract. Apart from the people who actually do visit gyms religiously, this year may be a good one to save that money towards travel and find other means of working out.

If a person finds the motivation to maintain a weekly work out plan come new year, he or she should be able to do this anywhere. How about working out in the great outdoors. Grass works just like a treadmill and lakes are the original pools.

In regards to travel, getting and staying in shape is unbelievably helpful. First of all, it makes the type of travel he or she can participate in limitless. Hello Mt. Everest! Second, it gives people who are saving up and can’t afford certain things a healthy hobby. Finally, being in shape makes people confident in all sectors of life.

Some may be putting off that trip to the Caribbean, because they can’t stand the sight of themselves in a bathing suit. If that’s what’s stopping you, then finally tackle it this year. Who knows, maybe you’ll find the courage to go nude on the beaches of France!

Quit smoking/drinking

Photo courtesy of Debbie Gonzalez.

These two things are probably the biggest waste of money anyone could ever take on in life. Based on money alone, these are two things we should all probably give up or do less of in 2012.

Consider this, a pack of cigarettes costs anywhere between $7 and $20 depending on brand and where in the world they’re being sold. People who smoke a pack a week could save between $364 and $1,040 a year. That’s roundtrip airfare money. People who smoke a pack a day are looking at saving $2,548 and $7,280 a year. That is an entire trip paid for.

Alcohol on the other hand, as a traveler and lover of all things food and wine, I can’t possibly advise everyone to completely give it up. (This of course does not apply to people with substance abuse problems. Honestly, all our lives are better without booze at the end of the day.)

But people should consider cutting down their alcohol intake substantially when saving for a trip abroad. A night out is extremely costly these days. Drinkers are looking at spending anywhere from $30-$100 just on booze at a bar. Maybe consider hosting dinner parties at home instead of going out for drinks. People could also go out just one night a weekend instead of two.

The final and most reasonable option is to just cut down your drinking whenever you do. Drinking too much is unnecessary and actually quite embarrassing a lot of times. Instead of getting sloshed, get tipsy. Bring out only enough money to get you to the happy point, then just enjoy the night.

Of course, your personal health is a much greater reason to give these two things up. In general it’s much harder for unhealthy people to travel, which is something to be mindful of if you’re interested in spending some or a lot of time abroad.

Take on a new hobby

Photography is a brilliant hobby to use while traveling. Photo courtesy of Emily Kendall.

When saving up, this is a huge must to fill the void of time you used going out to dinner, shopping or to the movies. A lot of people end up just watching loads of films and TV shows. (Don’t worry, I’m one of them.) But this time can also be used to do things you could never find the time to do before.

Let’s focus on travel-related hobbies since that’s the whole point anyway. You could try and learn a new language, start planning a trip or maybe even start a travel blog. These all take up time, are useful and are actually beneficial to someone interested in seeing the world.

Plus, they don’t have to cost money. Youtube is a great source for people interested in learning a language, almost all travel blogs and websites are free and very helpful in planning a trip and sites like WordPress, Tumblr and Blogger allow anyone to create their own blog at zero cost.

Improve relationships

Don’t be like these owls. Photo courtesy of Bahman Farzad.

The most rewarding thing in life is our relationships with others and lucky for all human beings, this reward is absolutely free. If you’ve lost touch with a family member, take time to get to know them better. It won’t cost a dime.

If you’ve lost focus on a lover. Put the effort into getting it back. Not to go into details, but the things you can do with a spouse or significant other are the most blissful in the world. Of course, I’m referring to deep conversations and long walks on the beach…

The point is that the number one most important thing in our lives as human beings is the relationships we have with fellow human beings. This means friends, family, lovers and more. Yet it’s something a lot of us don’t put enough time or effort into and the best thing about it, is that it requires only two people.

So when you’re saving up for a trip and start moaning about what to do this weekend, how about just spending an entire day with someone special to you doing nothing but watching films in bed, walking around town and getting to know each other a little bit better.

Don’t see your resolutions this year as giving up, but saving up and getting ready for something really special.

The reward: maybe a few days in Fiji. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon.

Banner photo by Julia Eve Hays.

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Sound to Sound Finale: Rugby

Destinations, New Zealand, Other, Tips & Facts

Sound to Sound Finale: Rugby

No Comments 17 January 2012

Of course our final fact has to be about Rugby, a game that’s won the hearts of so many Kiwi actaully arrived in New Zealand by South Island in Nelson.

It all started when New Zealander Charles John Monro studied abroad at Christ College, Finchley, England. He played rugby at the school, learned the rules, then returned home to Nelson and shared the sport with New Zealand, making him the “father of New Zealand rugby”.

[Monro] introduced the rules  to the Nelson Football Club in January 1870. He suggested a match be played against Nelson College, whose headmaster, Rev. F.C. Simmons, was himself a former student of Rugby School, as were his two predecessor principals. This led to the historic match four months later.-The Prow

So the first official rugby game ever to take place in New Zealand was on May 14, 1870 between Nelson College and Nelson Football Club.

Boy did it start a frenzy. Today, the All Blacks, New Zealand’s rugby team, is one of the most well-known symbols of the country. Their famed Haka, which is a Maori battle ritual, instills fear in the opposition and gives chills to sports fans worldwide.

Photo of the Nelson College Rugby team in 1876 courtesy of The Prow.

This is part of Heels and Wheels’ countdown to the South Island. Come back tomorrow to find more interesting facts about New Zealand’s South Island. 

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Sound to Sound fact 2: Slope Point

Destinations, New Zealand, Other, Tips & Facts

Sound to Sound fact 2: Slope Point

2 Comments 16 January 2012

While there are a few islands owned by New Zealand below the South Island, the actual southernmost point of the South Island is Slope Point. It’s a good milestone to visit, but don’t expect much company in the form of people.

Located just south of Waikawa, Slope Point itself is not accessible by road but is a 20 minute walk along a track. The AA signpost at Slope Point shows the distance to the Equator and the South Pole. The surrounding area is predominantly sheep farming country with spectacularly steep drops down to the sea below. The views are truly amazing over the rocky coastline and surrounding cliffs.-Visit New Zealand

Slope Point is about a four-hour drive from Queenstown.

Banner photo courtesy of Visit New Zealand.

This is part of Heels and Wheels’ countdown to the South Island. Come back tomorrow to find more interesting facts about New Zealand’s South Island. 

Come back tomorrow to find out another South Island fact for the final day of our countdown.

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Sound to Sound fact 3: A Sound

Destinations, New Zealand, Other, Tips & Facts

Sound to Sound fact 3: A Sound

No Comments 15 January 2012

The title of this campaign actually contains one of our facts.

What actually is a Sound?

In geography a sound or seaway is a large sea or ocean inlet larger than a bay, deeper than a bight and wider than a fjord; or it may be defined as a narrow sea or ocean channel between two bodies of land.-Wikipedia

Two sounds we’ll be visiting on our trip are the Marlborough Sounds and Milford Sound.

Banner photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon.

This is part of Heels and Wheels’ countdown to the South Island. Come back tomorrow to find more interesting facts about New Zealand’s South Island. 

Come back tomorrow to find out another South Island fact for day 2 of our countdown.

Thanks to Interislander and Jucy Cruize for sponsoring my ten day South Island adventure. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Sound to Sound fact 4: Franz Josef Glacier

Destinations, New Zealand, Other, Tips & Facts

Sound to Sound fact 4: Franz Josef Glacier

No Comments 14 January 2012

Franz Josef Glacier is one of the most impressive sights to see on the South Island. People can actually climb, hike or visit the glacier by helicopter. There are alot of intersting facts about Franz Josef Glacier, here is one of them.

From its origins high in the Southern Alps, the Franz Josef Glacier descends deep into the lush rainforest of Westland’s National Park, from a height of 2700m above sea level to only 240m in as little as 11 km, making it the worlds steepest and fastest flowing commercially guided glacier.-Franz Josef Glacier Guides

Seeing a glacier isn’t a normal item on the agenda of most holidays abroad, which is why Franz Josef is such a special attraction on the South Island.

Banner photo courtesy of Glen Fern.

This is part of Heels and Wheels’ countdown to the South Island. Come back tomorrow to find more interesting facts about New Zealand’s South Island. 

Come back tomorrow to find out another South Island fact for day 3 of our countdown.

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Sound to sound fact 5: steepest street in the world

Destinations, New Zealand, Other, Tips & Facts

Sound to sound fact 5: steepest street in the world

4 Comments 13 January 2012

This fun fact actually comes from fellow travel bloggers Jade and James at Our Oyster. In a recent post, they wrote about Baldwin Street, the steepest residential street in the world, which is in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Baldwin street rises from a shocking 30 meters above sea level to 100 meters above sea level, rising at a gradient of about 1 : 5.-Jade Johnston

A fun little fact and a great stop on any road trip of the South Island.

Banner photo of Baldwin Street courtesy of Mahen “The Guru”.

This is part of Heels and Wheels’ countdown to the South Island. Come back tomorrow to find more interesting facts about New Zealand’s South Island. 

Come back tomorrow to find out another South Island fact for day 4 of our countdown.

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Sound to sound fact 6: sunny New Zealand

Destinations, New Zealand, Other, Tips & Facts

Sound to sound fact 6: sunny New Zealand

1 Comment 12 January 2012

Nelson is the sunniest town in New Zealand. The usual winner of this hot title, the South Island town topped the charts again in 2011. According to Rotorua Daily Post, Nelson received 2,487 sun hours in 2011.

Banner photo of Tahunanui Beach in Nelson courtesy of New Zealand Pictures.

This is part of Heels and Wheels’ countdown to the South Island. Come back tomorrow to find more interesting facts about New Zealand’s South Island. 

Come back tomorrow to find out another South Island fact for day 5 of our countdown.

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Sound to sound fact 7: Aurora Australis

Destinations, New Zealand, Other, Tips & Facts

Sound to sound fact 7: Aurora Australis

No Comments 11 January 2012

Everyone knows about the Northern lights, but did you know there are actually Southern Lights too?

It’s possible to see the Southern Lights, also called Aurora Australis, from New Zealand’s most southern points, including Stewart Island. Rakiura, which is what the Maori’s named this island, translates to “The Land of Glowing Skies”, because of this natural phenomenon, as well as the beautiful sunsets that can be seen from the island.

Read more about Aurora Australis.

Banner photo by Paul Moss, featured on Wikipedia, was taken from Bluff on New Zealand’s South Island.

This is part of Heels and Wheels’ countdown to the South Island. Come back tomorrow to find more interesting facts about New Zealand’s South Island

Come back tomorrow to find out another South Island fact for day 6 of our countdown.

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