How to travel long term, keeping the doctor away

When going traveling long term, you have to take extra care for your health. To start with, some vaccinations are mandatory in order to enter certain countries. Others, are just recommended due to the diseases in the country. Also, there are other diseases for which there’s no vaccination yet. This is a summary of all the actions we’ve taken to prevent as much as possible from getting sick.

Vaccinations

We finally have taken all of our vaccinations. We both have now the following vaccinations:

  • Hepatitis A (first one valid 1 year, second one valid 30 years)
  • DTP (valid 10 years)
  • Typhoid (valid 3 years)
  • Yellow fever (valid a lifetime)
  • Rabies  x2(no idea about the valid duration, they are not so clear on that side in spain)
  • Japanese Encephalitis x2 (a 3rd dosis is advised after 2 years)
  • Dukoral against Cholera x2 (travelers diarrhea – oral medicine, 2 year functional)

Personally we can recommend all of the vaccinations mentioned above. The first 2 are more usual all over the world although this might still differ in each and every country. The next 4 are advised when going to Africa, India, and Japan. The last one I can almost recommend to do when Europeans are born (if it would be functional longer). I usually have trouble with eating food that I am not used to. As a Dutch person we have a saying ”What the farmer does not know, that the farmer does not eat”. And this is something which is still an on going thing nowadays. Dukoral gives your stomach a dose of the bacteria we are not used to. The ones which makes us sick when we go to countries where these bacteria’s are part of the daily food, like in Africa and Asia. There is also something called travelers diarrhea. This vaccination also seems to help preventing that, although it’s not 100% proved (some say it helps 85%, which is better than 0%).

Drinking water in other countries

Drinking tap water in other continents is a hassle for most European stomachs. In most countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America the tap water contains bacteria which our stomachs aren’t used to. The only thing we can do, is avoid drinking it (even brushing your teeth with it!). So it seemed like the only option is buying bottled water.

But we are aware of the huge problem our wold has due to plastics, and we don’t like to buying plastic bottles everywhere we go. Glass bottles are not the best solution either. So we did some research and we figured out a way to drink water safely just from the tap. One condition… as long as it is crystal clear water we can purify it. With our Steripen pure+ Ultraviolet Water Purifier.

Although we maybe won’t dare to use it in every country (due to heavier diseases transmitted in the water like cholera), we will use it in most places for sure. Morocco, Egypt, South Africa and most countries of Asia. In some central African countries we will have to buy water bottles….

The Steripen pure+ is a simple method of purifying water and making it drinkable. The UV light destroys germs ability to reproduce and make you sick. The Pure+ SteriPEN destroys over 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. We bought the rechargeable Steripen which can be used for 2500 liter of water.

Using it is simple. It can purify 0.5 liter of water (in 48 seconds) or if you use it twice you can use it to purify 1 liter of water (in 2x 48 seconds) at the time. It is recommended to use it in a transparent water bottle, to see if the water is clear when it comes from the tap. You can get yours on amazon, order now here your Steripen pure+!

We tested the pen in a glass of water to see how it works:

Medicine to take on the travel

Travelling is fun, but can be difficult for our bodies. Getting sick when away from home is much more usual, and much more of a pain. Besides, finding the right medicines out of your country can sometimes be a struggle. There are some medicines that is always good to take with you when travelling.

When I’m travelling within Europe, I always have Ibuprofen and other head ache specific pills with me. If leaving the continent, I will always take a few extra meds:

  • Amoxicillin. Since it’s an antibiotic, it can be hard to get out of your country.
  • Diarrhea meds. I’d say most travelers can’t get away from the different bacteria…
  • Constipation pills. Eating out of home often can also deregulate our digestion and we might need a little help.
  • Bandages. Walking long hours, it’s easy to get hurts on your feet.
  • Tiger balm. This widely used balm from Asia is good for almost everything. Cold, headache, muscle pain…
  • Dextro/vitamin pills can be helpful when the trip is really long and you may suffer jetlag.
  • Enantyum. For migraines and headaches.

But that’s not all…

Besides this very complete kit, this time we’re adding a new, very important one to the list. These are the Malarone tablets. In Kenya and Tanzania (as well as other African countries) there is a risk of Malaria, transmitted by some female mosquito species. In some cases, malaria in can be deadly and there is no vaccination for it. Most people coming to this countries take them before, during and until a week after the trip. However, most malaria medications have several side effects and can be quite strong. Since we are staying long in this areas and it’s not good for your body to take them for that long, the doctor recommended us the not take them unless we start feeling fever. In that case, take the pills and run to the nearest hospital.

Next to this we will also take a Care Plus Mosquito impregnated net. It is important to have a net with impregnation as this is a chemical that repels mosquitoes. If the net is not impregnated, mosquitoes may stand on the net and if you happen to touch it, they can still bight you through the net. We bough the 2 persons net which should be easy to hang in almost every situation. Friends have told us that in most of these African countries there are hooks on the ceiling which makes it even easier. For the worst case we will take a small hook ourselves and a rope. For other tips from Tropicare see their youtube channel!

Insurance

No matter how careful you are, you can always get sick, fall in the shower, break a leg, or who knows! For such a long trip, we didn’t doubt: an insurance is mandatory. Since health insurance in The Netherlands is mandatory while you are registered in the country, Richard only had the option of upgrading his current insurance with a travel package (otherwise he would have to pay for two insurances).

For me (Blanca), I read a million opinions about travel insurances. It isn’t really that easy, because many insurance companies will not insure trips longer than 6 months, or cover the whole world (because we don’t know where we’re going). In the end, I narrowed down to a few good options, and went for the one I saw most long-time travelers use. That is IATI seguros, which has packages for long time travels exactly as I was looking for, “bloggers y grandes viajeros”, for a very fair price and a good coverage. Unfortunately, if you’re not Spanish, the longest period they will insure you is for 6 months.

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