Hints for Safe and Healthy Travel
Tips on health and safety begin before leaving home, especially when going on an extended trip or to a third world country.
- Make up your own first aid kit by filling a zippered plastic bag with the following: tweezers, scissors, band aids, disinfectant wipes, antibiotics, decongestion pills, antihistamine pills, lomotil, antacid, Aspirin, a laxative, cough drops, antiseptic ointment, eye-drop lotion, Vaseline, lip balm, and oil of cloves for toothache.
- If you depend on your eye glasses, pack a spare. If you wear partials or dentures take contact cement in case you break a tooth.
- If you are on medication, get an extra prescription from your physician. If you take shots like insulin, pack extra needles. Bring a letter from your doctor describing the reason for the pills and needles, especially if the pills are a narcotic. Some countries might consider your medication a drug.
- Leave irreplaceable jewelry at home. Besides attracting attention, why take a chance on losing it or having it stolen.
- Get medical insurance and make sure your belongings are covered with your home insurance.
- Check with a doctor who treats travel-related decease to see if you need shots or pills against malaria, tetanus, typhoid or hepatitis.
- Check with your own embassy to see if they have safety rules or advisories on your destination. Ask what places to avoid and how the country handles crime and foreigners who get in trouble.
- Leave an itinerary of your trip with relatives at home.
SAFETY AT YOUR DESTINATION
- Dress simply when exploring the sights, but keep in mind, local people will recognize you as a tourist no matter what you are wearing. Don’t offend the country with your clothing styles.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Spray your clothing and bare skin with bug repellent and wear sunscreen when necessary.
- Don’t wear heavy perfume. The odor attracts bugs and animals.
- Walk with purpose and don’t dawdle even during the day.
- Keep your watch out of sight under your sleeve or in your pocket if you are wearing something sleeveless. Don’t wear gold chains around your neck or gaudy rings on your fingers.
- Reverse your back pack so the zippered compartments are against your back and not ready to be unzipped. When you are sightseeing only carry in your back pack what you can easily replace — water, extra film and maps and such.
- If you take pictures, carry your camera around your neck.
- If you need directions go into a shop to inquire and don’t ask a stranger.
- If you take a taxi, note the number and look at the picture ID of the driver as you step in.
- Carry cash and cards in a slim money clip in your front pocket. Keep small change and small bills in a change purse and use that when your paying for purchases.
- Don’t feel you must barter. Determine what the item is worth to you and pay that amount. However, if you like bartering begin by offering half of the asking price.
- REGARDING FOOD
- Get in the habit of drinking bottled water when you are out of town and open it yourself.
- Have disinfectant tissues handy and wipe your hands frequently.
- Don’t accept a pill from anyone nor a drink from a stranger.
- Don’t eat any type of food where sanitation looks questionable, like at some road stands with no refrigeration.
- Eat only cooked food in restaurants unless your tour guide says otherwise.
BE STREET SMART
- Don’t go out after dark unless the street is well lit and busy with pedestrians.
- Don’t pet street animals.
- Use your own judgement whether to give beggars your spare change.
- Don’t give children money. (If you must give something, give pens or pins in exchange for something the children have like gum or crafts.)
- Keep your passport and airline tickets in a money belt around your waist or in the hotels safe. Remember, when you are cashing even travelers checks at the bank they usually want to see your passport.
- Pay attention when someone on a bike is approaching. Don’t walk close to the curb. Don’t make eye contact with gangs. They’ll try to intimidate you.
- Don’t go into a stairwell (like into a subway or hallway or an underground tunnel), if there aren’t at least two other people in sight.
- Follow your instincts, if you sense danger, leave.
BE FRIENDLY AND PRIVATE
- Don’t give out your hotel or room number to people you just meet.
- Don’t give out too much personal information like who you are traveling with.
- Learn to say thank you, please, hello, goodbye and how much, in the language of the country.
- Smile, relax, and enjoy yourself.