With summer on the horizon, it is a fair assumption that the number of people travelling will increase. Students often take this time to increase their exposure to other parts of the world, learn new cultures, and view their environment from different perspectives. An exciting time it is for these people who carry on their backs the anticipation of an exciting adventure in their immediate future.
Sometimes, however, the adventure can take a turn for the worst. Excursions into the jungle mixed with the exoticism of trying new foods can expose unsuspecting travelers to the dangers of foraging into unknown territory.
For those of us who are lucky enough to have been born and raised in the western world, we do not have to face the daily challenges of contracting malaria or yellow fever from an infectious mosquito. This fact puts us at an even greater risk because our bodies are not used to the exposure. Consequently, we must understand the dangers of traveling and begin to take steps to protect ourselves.
The key to maintaining a healthy and safe trip is planning ahead of time. Know and understand the place you are going to before getting on the plane. Ask yourself: What kind of civil infrastructure is in place there? What is the political atmosphere? Will I have running water? What kinds of diseases are prevalent there? Gathering information to help you answer these questions will make you aware of the situations you might face when you get there and will better prepare you for your adventures.
Be sure to visit your doctor at least 6 - 10 weeks in advance. He will be able to inform you of the specific health issues in your particular areas. In addition, he can give you information on how to protect yourself from the dangers of the region. If you are on medication or are suffering from a chronic illness, ask your doctor for a letter that outlines your conditions and symptoms, as well as, lists the medications you are taking to treat those symptoms. It is a good idea to customize the itinerary of the trip to accommodate your medication schedule. Also, make sure that your routine vaccinations are up-to-date.