I’ve collected some good travel habits over the years from hard-learned lessons, and I’d like to share them with you. Enjoy!
1. Don’t eat at an outdoor buffet, especially in the tropics.
Bahamas 1987… I was young and naïve back then. I went to an outdoor buffet and had conch salad. Then, it had me. I was in the hospital for three days on an IV.
Tropical heat does a number on food that is sitting out. Just don’t.
2. Don’t eat non-local cuisine when travelling off-season.
Malaga, Spain 2002 … I was here off-season with a bunch of friends, and one convinced the rest of us to go for Chinese. I had my misgivings, but went along. During my meal, I already felt the tell-tale shiver up my body and spent the next day yakking all over the place.
Restaurants that don’t get a lot of patrons serve expired food. Beware.
3. Don’t eat undercooked chicken.
Meissen, Germany 2003 … I was at a nice restaurant, and probably, it was just a mistake, but the inside of the chicken was pink, and I didn’t see it until it was too late. Again, the “rush up my body” feeling and boom, food poisoned again.
Remember, nearly ALL poultry has salmonella, so if it isn’t cooked, you’ll probably get sick.
4. Don’t wear contacts in heavily polluted cities.
India 2006 … Pollution gets under contacts. You might not feel it until after a few weeks, but I had eye problems for months after and couldn’t wear contacts or makeup for a year.
Glasses are the safer bet when you see smog.
5. Don’t eat ice cream away from a private bathroom if you’re lactose intolerant.
Sicily, Italy 2006 … People who are lactose intolerant want ice cream too, but many places only serve ice cream made from cow milk. Sometimes, one has a moment of weakness and thinks they can get away with it. I admit, I tried, and failed. The worst part was, when my bowels started erupting, we were outside a bar with a single gender-neutral toilet. I had to hang out there until it was over, using that horrible little toilet, with everyone at the bar watching me go in and come out again, over and over.
I did swear off dairy that day.
6. Don’t forget how jetlag can mess with your cycle
Villard de Lans, France 1998 … Jetlag can mess with your circadian rhythm, as we all know, but it can also make a woman’s menstruation cycle go nuts. I will never forget this one. It ruined my whole day, with pain like I’d never felt before.
Always pack some Ibuprofen.
7. Don’t forget to use nose spray and disinfectant your airplane seat area when flying.
If you get sick every time you get on an airplane, you are not alone. Knowing what makes you sick and avoiding it is your best defense. First, use antibacterial wipes to wipe down anything around your seat that you will touch. No one ever cleans those things, and they are full of germs. Second, use nose spray to keep your nose wet. A wet nose is able to block viruses from entering your airways and is your second defense. There are also anti-virus masks, but I think they are less effective and kind of uncomfortable. Third, keep a bottle of antibacterial lotion for your hands, since getting to the toilet isn’t always easy.
It’s a battle, but you can win it.
8. Don’t forget motion sickness pills if you’re going to be on a boat.
Galapagos, Ecuador 2008 … An unexpected speed boat ride can put you in an awful state. We had missed our flight from Lima to Quito, and therefore missed our ship. When we finally arrived in San Cristobal, the tour company speed-boated us out to our ship. The world was spinning much faster than I was used to after that, and luckily, I had packed Dramamine, just enough for both of us, one for each day. It saved us from a very bad time and allowed us to enjoy the uniqueness of the Galapagos.
9. Don’t forget your allergy medicines.
Seems like every flight I’m on now has one of those “emotional support” animals. Since I’m allergic to anything with fur, I’m not a fan of this new trend. I really think, if I can’t eat peanuts, then there should be no silly pets on people’s laps spreading dander throughout the cabin.
Obviously, a real working dog who supports his human is A-OK, but a tiny nippy poodle should just stay in his bag.
10. Don’t forget sunscreen.
Cusco, Peru 2008 … When we arrived at the Cusco airport, we were met by a rep from our hotel. He told us we had to be transported via military brigade to the city center. We got shuffled into the back of an open bed truck and stood there with our luggage while they drove us through crowds of protestors. Projectiles were flying, and you would think, this isn’t the time for sunscreen, right? But it is for me. I burn in five minutes without. Luckily, I had taken it out of my suitcase right away when we landed. I hastily put some on, and unfortunately, with all the jostling, I missed a spot right on my forehead.
Ten years later, I’ve got a mole right in that spot. You can’t be too careful.