Nov 26, 2013

Simple Tips When Traveling Abroad

Heading south of the border this winter? Here are some helpful travel tips from the research dept...

First... get your immune system as strong as possible by eating lots of fresh organic fruits and veggies, as well as daily doses of probiotics and other supplements that help support a balanced G.I. tract. Helping your body help itself can be the best plan of avoiding down time.

Second... and a lot of times the easiest, wash your hands! Wash them before meals, before you brush your teeth and multiple times a day if you get sick down there. Sneezing and snotting!!

Third... always drink bottled water. That's right, don't use tap water for much more than taking a shower. Don't rinse the toothbrush off using tap water either. Wash pots and pans with clean boiled water. This will be easier during longer stays when renting a house or apartment.

Fourth... if you are planning on eating out a lot, and many travelers do, try to avoid the street vendors. Some are fine, but some aren't really looking to give gringos the best they have and, well... you may just wind up with some bad pollo! Small towns are usually better than big cities, but as always, better safe than sorry.

Fifth... make friends with the locals! Not only will they get you on the good runs (when they have water!), but they usually know the doctor and can help ensure good treatment.

Did you get sick?? Don't wait, get a cure sooner than later. Except for a few controlled drugs like valium or codene, you can get medications from the pharmasist without a prescription. They are typically made by drug companies in Mexico, so you may not recognize the names, but the pharmacist can look up the chemical content of the drug you want and tell you the Mexican brand name. Many are illegal to bring back to the U.S., so beware.

Sixth... beware of biting things. On many tropical trips there are lots of small critters that will bite and suck the comfort out of you. Most put-ins and take-outs have mosquitos and tiny black sand flies. Typically, you'll never feel them land or bite you, so... bring some lightweight pants/bottoms to cover up your legs. Sometimes you have to wait for the shuttle taxi an hour or more and that's a long time to stand around with your legs exposed to those little buggers! Some will recommend DEET, but I like natural cures, starting with... covering up! If you were listening during the last paragraph, locals usually have natural remedies you can take that will, at least, ease some of the maddening itch. They itch a lot! So, don't even TOUCH them for the first two days, not even a little bump! After that the maddening itch will begin to dwindle. 

Along this line, most of the strays running around can be quite filthy, mangey or have infections you just don't want to be associate with... so don't pet 'em even if... they're the cutest ever.

Seventh... Earaches!! They happen, and an easy cure is half vinegar, half peroxide droplets in each ear with some cotton or toilet paper to keep it in your ear for half an hour. This practice goes a long way to prevent ear infections, too. If you do get a bad infection go to the doc so they can clean out the infection before giving you drops. 

Eighth... Sunburn!! Easy. Put on the sunscreen!! I use the strongest stuff I can find when I travel south of the border. Hitting the tanning bed on the regular a few weeks before travel can ease the tropical transition, too!

Theft is obviously another concern, but usually not a problem in smaller mountain towns where kayakers tend to congregate. As a general rule, though, don't bring anything you aren't willing to lose, i.e. expensive laptops, cash, jewelry, gear, cameras. Travel light and bring things you can give away to locals, in a show of thanks. It'll go a long way in building friendships and help ensure a fun lively vacation! Gifting is a good practice, anyway!! Have fun and travel safe this holiday season, y'all. Til next time...

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