Common Sense Health
Before getting into health we must state that the most important thing you can buy before you leave home is decent travel insurance.
You need a policy that covers you for where you are going and for what you are doing in those places. Don’t dumb down your trip over the phone to try and save a few pounds. If you’re going base jumping or potholing tell them.
One of the most important aspects of a policy for us was that we would be flown home from anywhere if we were seriously unwell. Our total insurance costs were about 5% of the cost of our trip. Expensive but well worth the peace of mind it offers.
It is inevitable that you will get ill at some point on a long trip. Hopefully it won’t be anything too serious.
We both caught bad colds towards the end of our time in South America and got food poisoning too. The food poisoning was relatively minor but we did need to rest for a few days to get back to full strength. It is worth taking a few days of r&r when you feel unwell, it will help you get better faster and ensure you get back to full strength so you can enjoy your trip. This is where having too rigid an itinerary can backfire. Fortunately we hadn’t booked flights from Lima so we could stay in the hotel for a few more days.
Oli suffered a very high fever and symptoms of flu while we were in Laos, this brought home how careful you need to be in countries with little or no health service. We were initially worried that it could be dengue fever or possibly malaria. We did call our travel insurance company to check what our options were should the condition deteriorate further.
We found a pharmacy in town, although it was more of a kiosk selling drugs than a pharmacy. The man behind the counter spoke no English so we were unable to get any medical advice. I bought paracetamol and a thermometer so I could monitor his temperature. The paracetamol helped to reduce the temperature and after a long sleepless night it came down to a normal level. Oli still felt very unwell for the next 4 days so we rested until he was well enough to move on.
It’s really not worth risking your health, if you think you have a serious illness seek immediate medical assistance and call your insurance company.
Common sense First Aid
Alongside the generic and prescription medicines we did bring a fairly comprehensive first aid kit. Chloe’s sister is a doctor and furnished us with a selection of hypodermic syringes, a tourniquet and a full blood transfusion kit. Whilst we wouldn’t necessarily recommend this as a must you would certainly be glad to be able to hand this to any doctor in a hospital in Laos, Cambodia or Burma. If you have a basic grasp of first aid it will cover you and any unfortunate souls you might have to help along the way for most minor ailments. You can buy these kits here.
If you are assembling a first aid kit these are the contents of the Lifesystems pack.