Tropical Travel Health: What You Should Know

Traveling to a tropical destination requires more preparation than just packing mosquito repellent and sunblock. You should be aware of possible health problems you may face at your destination, as well as preventive measures you can take. The last thing you want is to end up with a fever, stomach problem—or something worse—on a trip that was supposed to be refreshing and rejuvenating. Here are some things you should know about tropical travel health.

Learn about diseases you may come across

Close up of a mosquito; tropical travel health


According to one survey, 15% of travelers to developing countries reported becoming sick during or after their trip. The greatest risk is diarrhea. Stings, environmental hazards, altitude-related illness and accidental injury are some of the additional risks. You should also be prepared to deal with possible jet lag, sunburn and dehydration. Water‐related problems include not just exposure to infectious agents but also boating and diving accidents. Keep these in mind when thinking about which medication and safety gear to bring on your trip. Regardless of your physical condition, a pre-trip checkup is a good idea. Be sure to review all your medications if you have a chronic illness.

Take preventative measures

Taking care of your personal hygiene is important for staying healthy, so keep hand sanitizer and antiseptic wipes close by. Magnesium supplements are great to have on hand while traveling to help you sleep better.

Be sure you’re up to date on your varicella, rubella and mumps and measles vaccines. Depending on where you’re traveling you may want to consider hepatitis and rabies vaccination as well. Travel can take a lot of toll on your immune system, so you might want to load up on vitamin C a week before you leave. Vitamin B12 can help keep you energized.

Pack a first-aid kit

First aid kit; tropical travel health

A first-aid kit should be a part of everyone’s luggage, so be sure you have all the essentials before your trip. Aside from painkillers, antiseptics and motion sickness pills, you’ll also want sterile dressings, bandages, hydrogen peroxide and plasters. Pack tweezers, scissors, thermometer, hydration salts, vinyl gloves and sunburn treatment. Insect bite treatment will be helpful in case your repellent doesn’t do its job. It’s always wise to pack condoms. Anti-diarrhea tablets and rehydration sachets will also come in handy, as well as a water disinfectant.

Don’t forget medications

Buying travel health insurance is good, but you should also bring an array of medications with you. Pack all your prescribed medications and some you get over the counter. Motion sickness pills, mosquito repellents, pain killers and antiseptics should be within arms’ reach at all times. If you’re traveling to a malaria-prone country, be sure to bring anti-malarial tablets. Start taking the tablets before entering the malarial zone and continue doing so for some days or weeks after leaving it. Antihistamines will help keep allergies at bay. And don’t forget probiotics to safeguard your gut. Cold and flu treatments will come in handy in case a change in climate hits your immune system.

Final thoughts

Traveling to a tropical destination can wreak havoc on your immune system, so be sure you’re ready for the unexpected. Take preventative medication and boost your immune system at least a week before you travel. Pack all the essential medication you usually take as well as all the essentials that will help maintain your tropical travel health. Don’t leave the house without a first-aid kit, and be sure to maintain cleanliness to avoid disease.

About Nicole Noel

Nicole is an avid traveler passionate about yoga and healthy living. She loves to explore different cultures and share her experiences with others. In her free time she likes to prepare healthy and delicious food for her friends.

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