Anyone who has traveled to exotic places has experienced the misery of getting sick while away from home. Exposure to the worst bugs can be avoided by practicing good hygiene and avoiding the sketchiest food and water, but there are other tools available to combat the little beasties that hide around every corner — drugs!
The best way to protect against many serious illnesses is to get vaccinated. I made sure all of my vaccinations were up to date by visiting a travel clinic. The doctor vaccinated me against typhoid and yellow fever, and gave me a booster to top up my immunity for measles, mumps, and rubella. All of the my other vaccines were already up to date: tetanus, diphtheria, Hepatitis A and B, pertussis, and polio.
I also elected to buy Dukarol, the oral vaccine against cholera and traveller’s diarrhea. This was rather expensive, but if it helps me avoid a couple of days wrapped around a toilet bowl, it’s worth it! It can be bought at any pharmacy over the counter.
Are you uncertain whether vaccines are a good idea? Try watching this great video by Penn and Teller (caution: coarse language).
Despite taking Dukarol, vaccine against traveller’s diarrhea and cholera, it’s a near-certainly that I will be spending some time on the porcelain throne (or porcelain squat-hole, depending on location). To combat these, I am bringing the off-the-shelf diarrhea relief medication Loperamide (i.e. Immodium). I am also brining an extra-powerful prescription antibiotic, Azithromycin, for more… challenging… cases.
I have been told there are two stages to experiencing seasickness. During the first stage, you think you are going to die. During the second stage, you wish you were going to die. Seeing how I will be spending weeks at sea, I’m bringing drugs to combat seasickness, should I experience it. For lighter cases, I’m bringing dimenhydrinate (i.e. Gravol), but for serious cases lasting multiple days, I’m bringing scopolamine, a behind-the-ear patch that supposedly lasts several days.
Dehydration can be a major danger to delicate northerners like myself who are not conditioned to deal with extreme heat. All of the electrolytes that are lost through sweat must be replaced. I am packing an electrolyte powder for emergencies.
Accidents and illnesses can happen despite the most careful preparation. I carry health insurance that will cover any health emergencies on my trip. Note that most health insurance will not cover you while traveling through regions with a government safety warning.