Traveling to a Rural Destination? 5 Ways to Stay Well on your Trip July 4, 2013 By Cait Hartwyk Leave a Comment 5 Tips to stay healthy when traveling to rural destinations: Visit a travel health specialist before departure. Get vaccinated. Pack travel supplies and travel health essentials. Avoid risky behavior. Be prepared to seek medical help quickly if needed. Exploring and trekking through rural destinations offers the opportunity to experience other cultures in a very unique, unspoiled way as you take in sights that are off the beaten path. Inherent in this type of travel, however, are some additional health threats, but all of these can be mitigated with preparation and caution. Remember, ignoring your health in rural areas can be particularly problematic and can lead to significant health problems since meaningful healthcare is likely to be unavailable. 1. Seek medical advice before departure – Travelers must begin the planning process months ahead of the departure date. Some vaccinations must be given in a series for optimal immunity, requiring additional time, and your travel health specialist will make appropriate recommendations for the destinations on your itinerary. Additionally, a pre-travel examination will alert you to pre-existing medical conditions that could be exacerbated by travel so you can address these before your trip. Special care should be taken if you have a chronic illness. 2. Receive travel vaccinations – Vaccines are a key line of defense against diseases such as Yellow Fever or Japanese Encephalitis that are largely unknown at home and should be thoroughly considered even for short-term trips. Extended time in rural areas means vaccines are even more necessary. With proper preparation, fewer health issues will arise for the traveler, particularly in areas where mosquito-borne disease is prevalent. 3. Pack travel supplies and travel health essentials – Travel health supplies are essential for rural destinations since they will lack many amenities. Mosquito repellant, sunscreen, and a water purification kit are just some of the necessary items. Protection against insect-borne disease also means investing in bed netting, Permethrin, and simple measures such as a long-sleeved shirt and hat. 4. Avoid risky behavior – During the trip, minor, everyday actions can cause significant health problems. Even though you may be tired and out of your element, a little common sense goes a long way. Whenever possible, keep hands away from the face and eyes to prevent contamination or the spread of disease. Wash hands often, or use hand sanitizer if clean water is not available. Indeed, contaminated water is likely to be a common concern in rural areas, so avoid ice or even brushing your teeth with tap water. With a little diligence, many health challenges can be prevented. 5. Seek help quickly – Prevention is essential for the traveler in rural locations, but, even with the most thorough preventative measures, health issues may still arise. Healthcare is not going to be like what you are accustomed to at home. Be sure to consult with the US Embassy for a list of physicians in your destination, and take contact info for your travel health specialist or home doctor with you. Address any strange symptoms immediately. When it comes to your health, err on the side of caution. Thoroughly enjoying every moment of your adventure and returning home healthy should be the primary goals of anyone who plans to travel to rural areas. Observing the recommendations listed above will help to prevent health issues. Finally, travelers to rural areas must remember the limitations presented by the location itself: lack of supplies, medical expertise, and healthcare facilities. Mindset is an important facet for the traveler since every decision about food, water and activities has the potential to impact your trip. Be smart, prepare well, and use common sense to get the most out of your rural adventure!