Travel Medicines and Health on Tour
An essential part of the preparation and planning before going on tour is Travel Medicines and Health considerations.Being Ill on tour, it’s not fun and can certainly add to the challenge, if a challenge is what you are after.
There is a lot to think about for this part of the preparation for a tour. What do you need to do before you go? What should you carry with you? What will you do if the worst happens? After all depending on where you are travelling, health care may be difficult to find so it’d be foolhardy to fail to consider this subject before leaving.
For Europeans travelling in Europe this is pretty simple, you need a valid EHIC card and you can get treatment in Europe, therefore your considerations are reduced somewhat to what first aid items and drugs for minor ailments to carry. Travelling further afield is whole new ball game, you may be going to remote places, or destinations where drugs and medicines are hard to get hold of, or in some cases just downright expensive compared to home or other countries you are travelling through. Then there is the question of Insurance, do you take this out, or is it really worth it. That one only you can decide.
During my long bike ride so far I have faced some of these challenges along the way. If you think about it, whilst you remain at home, carrying out your day to day routines, work, social life etc you are likely to suffer medical challenges too, colds, flu, maybe bruising yourself or twisting an ankle and any other number of minor ailments. The same applies on tour, only depending on your destination some of the conditions or ailments can be a little more obscure and ones you wouldn’t be faced with at home.
You should certainly see a travel clinic well before departing on your trip to see if it’s recommended that you are vaccinated against some of the nasties you may come across. Taking this precaution myself and because my trip was to be open ended plus I couldn’t say precisely where I was going other than Africa to start with the recommendation was to be vaccinated against “THE LOT!” as my nurse put it.So with that recommendation I proceeded to be checked for coverage and inoculated against all manner of diseases that I hoped to never come across such as:
- Hepatitis A – had already had for a work trip to China
- Hepatitis B
- Rabies – Wasn’t sure about but should you be bitten, the treatment is easier to find having had this.
- Tetanus – if you have had 3 or more of these in your lifetime you may be covered for life, check with your clinic
- Yellow Fever – You need a signed and stamped book to confirm you have had this one to get into several countries.
- Japanese Encephalitis – In case I ended up in Asia in the next couple of years.
- Menengitis ACWY
- Cholera – I ended up not having this one.
Vaccinations are not cheap and on top of those depending on your destination you may also need to take other drugs such as Anti Malarials, Doxycycline, Malarone or Lariam (Mefloquine). It’s possible to check beforehand whether an area you are intending to visit is a risk area. Take a look at an online malaria map. Excellent for working out when you can start and stop taking these drugs after exiting a malarial zone. The same website also has information on which vaccines are suggested for which countries.
Then thought needs to be put to what other medicines you should carry with you. Again this will depend on your destinations and route and how obtainable drugs and medicines are along the way. Travelling to Africa I wasn’t prepared to take chances and went with a belt and braces approach.
- General Pain Killers (Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen)
- Diarrhoea (Imodium)
- Antibiotics for bacterial infections (Co-Amoxyclav, Augmentin)
- Antibiotics for stomach upsets (Metranidazole)
- Antibiotics for Explosive stomach upsets (Ciprofloxacin)
- Rehydration powders
- Savlon healing cream
- Sudocrem healing cream
- Malaria Treatment (Coartem)
- Anti Malarials (Doxycycline, switched to Lariam)
- Antihistamines (Piriton, Piriteze)
On top of that I also took a well stocked first aid kit which included my own needles, lots of dressings and plenty of plasters.
In the most part during the last seven months of touring I have remained very healthy and small medical challenges have occurred along the way.
Falling from my bike in Dakar, Senegal when a bus overtook another forcing me off of the road. I landed on my chest on ribs I had cracked before, very painful. I carry lots of paracetamol (Acetaminophen) and Ibuprofen, so painkillers were self prescribed and I remained in discomfort for a couple of weeks.
Dehydrated and Stomach upset in Tanzania – Went to a hospital for a malaria test which came back negative, rehydration therapy and antibiotics.
South Africa – Generally feeling unwell, fever, headache, painful foot and swollen lymph nodes in groin, African Tick Bite Fever with Secondary infection, Augmentin and Doxycycline.
If you use up a drug and happen to be in a country where you do not need a prescription to get replacements, it may well be worth replenishing your stocks, but be aware some places are rife with counterfeit drugs and medicines, try and source from a reputable source. Hospitals tend to have the real deal.
So you can see just from my experience, preparation for Travel Medicines and Health on Tour should be high up on your list when preparing for a tour. I’m certainly glad I had prepared and despite my preparation I have had to seek medical assistance twice and the cost of both varying massively, Tanzania Cheap, South Africa considerably more expensive. Stay Safe..