It’s great to go gallivanting around the world, but it’s no fun to do it while you’re sick. Here are some tips on what you can do to keep yourself in tip-top shape. Please keep in mind that we are not doctors! We present this information to get you started, but you’ll need to consult your personal physician before you hit the road.
- Even if you’re feeling fine, it never hurts to check in with a doctor. Make sure you tell him or her about your upcoming trip. Don’t be afraid to ask for prescriptions for generic illnesses: traveler’s diarrhea, strep throat, yeast infection, etc. Check out our section on women’s sexual health while traveling for more tips.
- Get your shots! There may be specific diseases you need to get shots or prescriptions for, such as malaria, hepatitis and dengue fever. If you are in a larger city, visit a travel clinic that deals specifically with travelers and travel-related illnesses. You are not allowed to enter certain countries without proof of shots.
- Make sure to have all of your prescriptions filled before you go, and take copies of your prescriptions as proof. Unfortunately, some prescriptions can be sold on the black market. Protect them as you would a valuable.
- Buy specialty health products you think you may need. If you’re going to malaria-infested jungles, buy a bug spray containing DEET before you go. If you have a right knee that acts up when you walk a lot, take a cotton brace so you don’t have to limp around Paris looking for one. Don’t forget the sunscreen.
- Figure out if you want to take feminine hygiene products with you. Tampons and pads can be found throughout all westernized countries and large cities. However, westernized feminine hygiene products can be difficult to find in rural or impoverished areas. If you wish to not have your period while you are on the road, discuss your options with your doctor. For more info on this topic, we’ve written an article about dealing with your period on the road, which includes lots of links to discussions real women travelers are having about their own experiences.
- Decide what makeup you want to bring. Many female backpackers will take lipstick, powder and eye shadow, but the decision is up to you. Remember that makeup tends to make a mess- exploding powders, melted foundation, etc. Simple is better. You can read more about what to pack on our packing guide for women.
- Respect cultural differences. If you wear clothing that locals consider offensive or inappropriate, you may be subjected to unwanted attention. Check out our article about women’s travel safety tips for more.