There are a few precautions every traveler should take to make sure they stay safe, healthy and unrobbed. This is especially true in the poorer countries where travelers can be at higher risk of petty crime. Make sure you do all the following before you leave! Note that some items require attention weeks before you depart.
Shots Shots Shots, Errbooday!
I cannot stress this enough. Get your shots and vaccinations before you depart. Especially if you are going to tropical countries where there is increased chance of catching God knows what. Go see your doctor a month or so before you leave to see which vaccines he/she recommends. Update any that are due for updating. Hep A/B are a must, typhoid and traveler’s diarrhea come in oral vaccines and pertussis should be included in your tetanus shot. Dukerol, taken for travelers diarrhea is quite pricey but after the initial dose, if you go traveling over the next 5 years (confirm with your doc about this), you only need a half dose to be fully vaccinated. If malaria is an issue in your destination there are Malarone and Doxycycline, both pills taken daily. Malarone has fewer side effects but is about 5-7x more expensive than Doxy. Ask your doctor what they think is best since prolonged usage of Doxy can lead to light sensitivity. Doxy can double as a treatment for leptospirosis so its handy to have if you swim in questionable water. Some of these will be available in foreign pharmacies and you usually don’t need a prescription for them. When I went caving and submerged a large open wound on my shin, I took a cycle of Doxy to quash any risk of lepto. They were 20c a pill in Malaysia. So cheap!
A final note, feel free to visit a travel clinic as well but remember that they are, after all, a business and may try to sell you more than you need.
That’s My Purse! I Don’t Know You!
OK so I don’t carry a purse, but passport and money are always on you right? I bought the Innate Travel Waist Pouch for my last trip. I put my passport and the bulk of my money here and wore it under my shorts at all times. Before I left the hostel for the day, I would pull money from the pouch and put it in my wallet. This way if I got robbed, they wouldn’t have all my money, and more importantly, my passport. This particular rendition of the fanny pack is weather proof and water resistant. Its quite thin so I couldn’t really feel it under my shorts. There are multiple variations of this item in the form of neck pouches, shoulder pouches and even bra pockets! Point being, you want to separate your money into multiple places and keep your passport secure at all times.
Pills Pills Pills
It may be excessive, but as you saw from the previous post, I carry a small pharmacy with me. Honestly though, its a small effort for great comfort when you run into trouble. In my baggie are diarrhea pills (prescription), painkillers, GasX (bloating/gassy), Pepto, Immodium (generic), laxitives, allergy pills, electrolyte tablets, Malarone and Cepacol. Laxatives are a new addition after India. I brought all these Pepto pills, anticipating diarrhea, but ended up a bit constipated! Lesson learned: expect the unexpected. Electrolyte tablets are a new addition as well. They dissolve in water and help hydrate you. Perfect to have after a strenuous hike, night of binge drinking or if worse comes to worse, a case of traveler’s diarrhea. The ones I got are from Nuun. They even have a caffeinated coffee flavour, although I don’t know how hydrating that would be.
Doctor Pablo to the Rescue
OK so I’m no paramedic, but I do carry around a small first aid kit. Included are Bandaids, athletic tape, elastic tape, self adhesive gauze, antibacterial ointment, burn medicine (story to come), Afterbite and a few wet wipes. With the gauze and tape you can make pretty much any sized bandage that a Bandaid won’t cover. Note that if you ever need to tape around the circumference of a muscle (EX: tape around the whole calf), use the elastic tape and leave some give so its not pinching. These should suffice and if they don’t, you probably need to see a hospital anyways.
Aside from these, there’s the obvious, like don’t go down dark alleys at night, travel in groups and don’t flash your wealth (especially in poorer countries). Stay safe and if your’e ever in doubt, ask your hostel/front desk what the local emergency number is or where the nearest clinic/hospital is. Safe travels!