Long gone are the days when people just wanted to sit in a chair and watch the world go by while on vacation. Today’s international travelers increasingly seek adventure and thrills that capture the essence of the place they are visiting. However, with the rise in experiential travel also comes an increase in the risk for injury, illness and infection. Learning how best to protect yourself can help ensure that your adventure will be fantastic from start through finish.
What Is Experiential Travel?
Experiential travel is a vacation taken up a few notches to include experiences that resonate at an emotional or even spiritual level. These sorts of trips are more personalized, more hands-on, more adventurous and more attuned to the local culture of each destination. Some people take part in experiential travel for the purposes of self-discovery while others want to immerse themselves in the unique aspects of what drew them to the destination in the first place.
Health Risks of Experiential Travel
There are several components to experiential travel that can put the health of travelers at risk. These risks include:
- Far-off destinations. An adventure to a rainforest or exotic locale may be far from health care facilities should you develop a sudden illness or become injured during your trip.
- Action. Experiential travelers are not content to sit in a chaise at the side of the hotel swimming pool for a week. Rather, they want to get out and do things. Many activities increase the risk of injuries, exposure to mosquitoes carrying parasites, and other infectious diseases spread by animals and insects.
- Exposure to endemic diseases. In these out-of-the-way world destinations, the locals may not have been vaccinated against diseases that are rare in North America. As a result, you could become exposed to diseases such as polio, yellow fever and typhoid.
- Poor sanitation. You will likely have a difficult time finding filtered or bottled water while skydiving off cliffs in Nepal or exploring the Amazon. There is a risk of food-borne and water-borne diseases.
How to Stay Healthy During Your Adventure
With some preparation and preventative action, you can head out on whatever type of experiential travel adventure you can imagine and still protect your health. About two months before your departure, schedule a pre-travel health exam with a travel health specialist. You will receive any necessary travel vaccinations to reduce your risk of picking up infectious diseases during your trip. Travel health specialists can prescribe preventive medications such as anti-malarial drugs to begin taking before you depart. You will also receive guidance on packing for a healthy trip, such as which sunscreen to take, the best type of mosquito repellant and how to select a water purification kit. You may also want to consider travel health insurance, trip cancellation insurance and medical evacuation insurance in case of an illness or injury during your adventures.