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  • The Curious Traveler

Adventure Traveler’s Health

travel healthStaying healthy while on the trip of a lifetime. On an expeditionary rafting trip in Bolivia in 1995 I became violently ill (I’ll spare you the details) with giardia – an intestinal parasite after mistakenly drinking river water that I believed had been purified. It took a few rounds of antibiotics to get rid of it. My situation was hardly unique. In our efforts to have fun while traveling, many often leave their common sense at home. But finding a balance between experience and safety isn’t always easy. Wrap yourself in a bubble and you can miss out on unforgettable events. Take risks and you can end up with unwelcome surprises like giardia—or worse. Those surprises don’t always take the form of some exotic disease (sunburns and twisted ankles are common, too). But with a growing number of Americans looking for off-the-beaten-path experiences, the risk of a less common problem multiplies. Nevertheless, there are specific actions travelers can take to protect themselves. Here are a few recommendations: Get the proper vaccinations. Ask your doctor about what protection you’ll need for whatever part of the world you’re traveling to (like yellow fever, for example, for Sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America. It’s also essential that your basic vaccinations—like diphtheria, tetanus, measles/mumps/rubella, and hepatitis A and B—are up-to-date. An excellent resource for this is the Center for Disease Control, whose Yellow Book contains an updated list of risks and recommended vaccinations. Bring a traveler’s health kit. Don’t count on being able to find the proper medicine in the region where you’re traveling; counterfeit medication is often rampant. Instead, bring your own pain medication, along with Imodium and an antibiotic for intestinal problems. Of course, if you’re heading to an area affected by malaria, ask your doctor to prescribe the proper prophylaxis. Watch what you eat and drink. Let common sense guide you. Drink bottled water or boil it, and make sure fresh vegetables are hot and steaming. (See the CDC’s recommendations on safe food and water.) Sometimes, even following all these steps won’t be enough. But you shouldn’t let fear stop you from exploring. We travel because we want to enjoy certain experiences, just remember to take steps to protect yourself. Boundless Journeys – The World’s Great Adventures

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