Keeping healthy when travelling
Some people have asked me about keeping healthy when travelling, so this is my very personal take on the question.
As we get older, traveling can bring about hazards which probably don’t even occur to the younger generation. Having said that, I have to say that part from a couple of issues, my own general health is excellent, and I have the constitution of an ox.
I have a theory about staying well when in less developed countries, a very personal theory, based entirely on personal and friends experience, and probably with no scientific basis whatever, but it has worked for me. I firmly believe that eating locally, in road side cafes/restaurants where the locals are eating, is the best way to avoid delhi belly/montezuma’s revenge/turkey trots or whatever you’re having yourself. It’s when we try to track down something not indigenous to the area that problems start. I’m taking it as a given that everyone is careful about the water/ice etc..
If you can’t live without, for example, tea like mother makes, I would suggest you bring you own with you. In fact, I know someone who travels with baked beans of a particular brand!
Excessive worry and stress lower our resistance, and as a result, the bugs will attack. The obvious answer is to alleviate the stressors, but that is not always easy. The alternative, is seems to me, is to strengthen the immune system, and that can usually be achieved in the obvious ways -diet, exercise and sleep.
However, sometimes nature needs a helping hand, and I am a great believer in complementary medicine. Echinacea strengthens the immune system, and arnica is also helpful with crossing time zones. Melatonin apparently helps regulate sleep patterns at destination, but as I’ve never taken it, I cannot vouch for that one, and there are probably many more. Just ask someone.
One thing I always do as soon as the plane goes down the runway, is set my watch at the time zone of my ultimate destination and, as far as is possible, behave as if I am in that time zone. Because of meals etc, this is not always easy but, for me, it is so worth it.
Compression socks are great if you’re happy to wear them. I find them very uncomfortable because they make my skin itch and my feet sweat! As an alternative, I try to get at least two seats together so I can literally put my feet up, or otherwise an aisle seat so I don’t disturb people when getting up and down. I also do the leg exercises, and as many lower leg and foot stretches as I can remember, as often as I can (or whenever I am awake). I try to walk about the cabin when I can (I always ask for an aisle seat), and do other body stretches whenever possible, so that idiot woman three seats away, waving her arms around and touching her toes, may well have been me !!
A fellow traveller told me she prepares by booking an airport hotel the night before a flight, so ensuring a full night’s sleep (or as much as possible). A great idea, if it suits, but not much use if you can’t afford it. Personally, on long haul, I try to book an overnight flight, and adapt my destination time as before.
I carry echinacea, paracetamol, anti diarrhoea tablets, both instant and longer term, artificial tears (eye drops)anti itch cream (for mosquito bites), bug spray because of my attraction for mossies and all my current prescriptions stuff plus a copy of my most recent prescription. I also ensure my travel insurance is up to date.
I do find that I look forward so much to my trips, I can happily spend the time with a Lonely Planet guide book, or google. I also find people infinitely fascinating, and am happy to watch and eavesdrop