Chapter 9: How to Keep Fit While Travelling
Men travel faster now, but I do not know if they go to better things - Willa Cather
Even healthy people may find that travelling can precipitate illness. Differences in food, climate and schedule, in addition to the possible stress of travel can make you more susceptible to illness. Here are some tips to help you stay healthy when you travel.
BEFORE THE TRIP
Prepare and pack a simple first-aid kit in your suitcase.
This kit should contain the following items:
- Your prescription medicines, in their original containers.
- Medicines for diarrhoea and an upset stomach. Obtain from your doctor a prescription for an antibiotic you can take in case you are struck by diarrhoea. Ensure that you have packed medicines such as loperamide and antacids.
- Cough and cold medicines, such as pseudoephedrine tablets and cough syrups.
- Pain-relieving medicines, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin.
- Decongestants and antihistamines for treating allergies. Go in for the varieties that dont cause sleepiness or drowsiness.
- Antibiotic ointments, adhesive bandages and hydrocortisone cream.
- Medicines for preventing motion sickness, such as dimenhydrinate and an anti-nausea drug such as promethazine.
- Scissors, tweezers, nail clippers, pocket knife, thermometer, torch and mirror.
If you are travelling abroad, remember that medicines can be very expensive in the West! Also, many medicines are available only on prescription, which means you will need to spend additional money on a doctors consultation. Therefore, its far more prudent and much less expensive to carry all your medicines with you! If you are travelling with children or elders, you will need to take extra supplies to be able to meet their needs as well.
WHILE YOURE TRAVELING
If youre going to a place where you could face an increased risk of mosquito-borne diseases, protect yourself well. Insect repellents that contain DEET(N, N-diethyl-metatoluamide) work the best. If possible, wear permethrin-coated clothing and use nets while you sleep.
Sunburn can be hazard if you plan to spend a lot of time in the hot sun. Use a sun block with a sun protection factor (SPF) greater than 15 and reapply this lotion after swimming or sweating.
If you are going trekking in the mountains, you should be aware of the risk of developing acute mountain sickness, which is caused by a lack of oxygen when travelling to higher elevations. This form of sickness usually occurs at an altitude: headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, poor appetite and inability to sleep. It can be prevented by gradually ascending over several days to give your body a chance to acclimatize to the higher altitudes.
Being forced to sit for long periods in an uncomfortable airplane seat just adds to your woes (unless you are flying executive class!).
Simple tips to help you cope with the travails of intercontinental flight are as follows:
- The dry air in aircraft causes dehydration. Therefore, drink plenty of fluids (non-alcoholic only!) to counter water loss. Water is better than coffee, tea or fruit juices. Alcohol is not only useless in combating dehydration, but also brings about a markedly greater intoxicating effect when consumed in the rarefied atmosphere of an airliner than it does at ground level.
- Blindfolds, earplugs, neck rests and blow-up pillows are all used in helping you get quality sleep while flying.
- Get as much exercise as you can in the plane; for instance, by walking up and down the aisle, standing for spells and performing small twisting and stretching exercises in your seat. All of these help reduce discomfort, especially the swelling of legs and feet. If possible, get off the plane at stopovers, and perform some exercises or take a walk.
AFTER YOUR TRIP
In case you do fall ill during your trip, or after you come back, dont forget to let your doctor know about yourjourney, as this information can help him in making the correct diagnosis.