You’ve heard of people getting “Montezuma’s Revenge” while abroad.  And many people come home with a cold, or develop one just after arriving home.  How can you avoid this? Well, there are no guarantees, but your best chances to stay healthy include:

1. Don’t drink the water…sort of

In many places, the water isn’t actually dangerous or full of all sorts of diseases.  But every place on earth has a different collection of “normal” bacteria.  For locals who are used to it, the tap water is fine.  And if that is the case, for you it probably will be fine too.  But try to drink bottled water.  It is purified and won’t contain all those local bacteria you’re not used to.  If you were going to live there long-term, you’d build up a tolerance, but for a short visit, it’s better to steer clear of large amounts of tap water.  In some places, this can also mean avoiding ice.  Any of our pre-planned stops & family stays will involve you being served safe liquids.  So if they give you a glass of water, it’s fine.  It will have come from a purified source.

2. Eat street food…sort of

Street food is an amazing part of many cultures. But especially if you’ve got a sensitive system, you want to choose carefully.  Be sure what you get looks cooked well, and relatively clean.  Any sort of “harmless” snacks like chips or fresh fruits are fine.  (You may want to wash/rub off any fruits with skins you’ll eat.)  

3. Don’t touch everything

Different sources will shock you by saying (common thing you touch) has more bacteria than a toilet seat. Your cell phone, your keyboard, a handrail, a door knob.  All are pretty filthy.  You can bet that in between flights, airplane surfaces aren’t cleaned deeply.  You may want to bring wipes to wipe down surfaces like the tray table in the plane, and hand sanitizer for the times when you can’t avoid touching everyone else’s germs.  It also follows to reason that you will want to keep your germy hands away from your face.

4.  Drink plenty of fluids

Yeah, I know.  I said don’t drink THE water, but yes, do drink water.  Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do to stay healthy and keep your energy up.  Remember, water IS the best for this.  Soda or coffee or energy drinks actually aren’t great for hydrating your body.  Your body is 60% water, not 60% Red Bull.  And while travel may make you tired, consuming a lot more caffeine than usual can upset your stomach.  Best to keep this consumption in the same range as you have at home.

5.  Get some zzzzzzz’s

Sleep goes hand-in-hand with hydration as the best ways to stay healthy.  Most of our trip will only be an hour (if that) different in terms of time zone, so there is no need to worry about major jet lag.  But being well-rested before the trip is a great way to ensure you are able to keep up a somewhat hectic pace of our travels.  (For those who are worried about jet lag, start a little before your trip, shifting your sleep patterns an hour or two in the direction you’ll have to adjust when you’re gone.  This lessens the impact of the change during the trip.)

6.  Use sunblock

We are from Wisconsin.  We are NOT very close to the sun.  Even if you “burn and then tan” or “never burn”, trust me.  Wear sunblock. The sun is MUCH closer to the earth as we get much closer to the equator.  You will NOT be happy sitting on the rough fabric of an airplane seat, with your waistband rubbing your tender belly, as you try to keep it from feeling like your flesh is boiling off of you.  If you take ONE bit of advice from me, let it be this.  I know you may want to come home with a tan, but not using sunblock can leave you with more than you bargained for.