One of the strong reasons people worry is about travel and staying healthy. There are so many known and unknown diseases and things that might happen. I think health is very fragile anyway and while it’s understandable, it shouldn’t stop one from travelling.
I know there is a say, but not sure the exact words. It says that the best water/food for you is the one from your place of birth. And it makes sense. Your body is adapted to your home environment and makes you immune to some treats that place has. So if you take yourself to another environment, your body might not have the “weapons” to fight those treats yet.
But just because it’s a different (unknown) environment, doesn’t mean it’s scarier. You just need to give yourself some “extra help”. Or something to make your mind feel at ease, it helps with staying healthy. Either it’s a layer of sunscreen, a mosquito repellent, a hidden pocket for your valuables or a fearless friend 😊
When I was living in Bucharest, I never had to wear a thick sweater. Because for me the temperatures inside the buildings seemed always high, even in winter, I was wearing t-shirts all year. Then I moved to London, where 19 degrees seems the highest you can get inside a building. Which for me it’s cold. Ok, I think everywhere under 15 degrees it’s cold for me. Now sweaters are my best friends. I rarely wear a t-shirt, maybe outside, when it’s summer.
I had to completely change my clothes, but I’m still not getting colds. Rather than trying to do what locals do, it’s best to listen to your feelings (or pains).
Observe and learn
I was saying this also in my article about how to make long flights bearable. Nothing helps more than knowing what you are sensitive with and be careful with that. Sometimes, you learn the hard way. The important thing about staying healthy is that you do learn from past situations. And how you react in certain circumstances.
People with all kinds of conditions travel the world and they enjoy it. They have learned to understand their reactions, come better prepared and willing to adapt. And it works, you would be surprised. I was in Monteverde in Costa Rica, a small mountain place, where I met a lady in a wheelchair. It was pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but she was confident and totally independent. A solo traveller. I found her very inspiring and brave.
I’m nowhere near that strong and I have no serious condition. But we shouldn’t compare, small or large issues, we all struggle with something more or less. My main issue is, I have a sensitive stomach. So although I can eat the cheapest of the street food and go away with it, I am very careful with the type of ingredients. For example, meat and diaries are a red flag to me, it can easily go wrong. Then, reading or eating while on a mountain road, is a no-no. I think it would take me less than 10 min to get sick. I understand my body and what I need to do to staying healthy.
It’s little things, but it helps you to stay healthy and in a good mood. I also carry with me a little bag with different types of medicine. It’s mostly for my mom to not worry, but it became a habit. I had never had to use any of it, but it happened several times that I had the right one to give to someone needing it. So I’m happy to keep it with me on every trip.
To keep it short, I’ve never been sick while travelling. So I guess I’m either doing something right or I’m just lucky. Sometimes I hear stories from other people who got sick or had accidents or all sort of things. For a brief moment, I’m thinking of how many bad things could happen to me. Just briefly, I get goosebumps. Then I think of something else.
I’m not very aware of the dangers. I could be, but I find it so tiring and not worth the effort. It would make me unhappy too. I just assume nothing bad will happen to me and live accordingly.
Some people are more tolerant to risks than others, and I believe it affects what kind of experience one has. At home and abroad. Because assuming something good/bad can happen, it influences your expectations and how you interpret what you see. And this dictates your reactions. Your reactions influence how others react towards you and so on.
I think that by travelling, you get to feel more confident with uncertainty and unknown, and kick some stereotypes out of your mind.
When I first went to Kenya, I used only bottled water, walked around with my wet tissues and was suspicious of random people approaching me. I had 2 types of mosquito repellent, just in case. I was super careful with my belongings and when it was slightly getting dark, I was rushing to my accommodation.
A year later, few travels in between, I was eating street food in Indonesia and going out with locals. Wet tissues or mosquito repellent, a thing of the past. One evening, I shared the room with two ladies (from Europe). It was their first trip so far away, and I saw they were using bottled water to wash their teeth. They advised me to do the same, and I found it funny. I told them there is no need, it’s safe. They didn’t believe me. I remembered that I did the same in Kenya and would have probably answered the same at that time.
My advice on staying healthy
People say you should do that and that. Depending on who you talk to, makes you feel safer or freak out and cancel your flight. The thing is, you will listen to the one who confirms your reasoning/fears. If it’s too different, you reject it. Not saying it’s always true, but most of the time, asking for advice it’s just seeking for confirmation of what you already believe in. At least it’s what I noticed on myself as well, for travelling. You are as open as you allow yourself to be.
So my advice is to take as many precautions as you need to feel safe. Because the goal is to feel comfortable and to enjoy it. And in the end, you need to go there and experience it for yourself. You will adjust on the way. Let’s say, if you’re cold, put as many layers on you as to feel warm. It doesn’t matter if everyone else is wearing summer dresses and says it’s super hot. Take your layers off one by one, as you feel more comfortable. If not, keep them on. It’s just different people, different needs.