Being poorly can be horrible, but throw in unfamiliar territory, in a foreign country and it can only be summed up as a living hell. There is nothing worse than getting poorly when you are travelling abroad. I have had this happen to me so I’m writing to help you travel better regardless if you’re unfortunate to become unwell. Firstly let me tell you this might get a little graphic and our reader friendship is going to be crossing a line. You’ve been warned!
Let’s kick things off by giving you my travel bug background. I was a lucky girl and never got poorly when I went travelling, I managed to dodge every bullet whenever we went away until 2014. The most hideous scenario possible and it has made me strike off that part of the world because of it. Hubby and I don’t tend to do big trips together, we do small spontaneous weekends and have only been abroad together maybe a handful of times in our 10 years? So we set out to Hugarda for a trip to the Red Sea in an all inclusive 5 star hotel. I’d heard of travel sickness horror stories from Egypt but because we were in such a fabulous hotel I assumed it wouldn’t even be on our radar. I knew not to drink the water and only have bottled, but that was as far as it went.
The first couple of days were fantastic, lots of sunshine, lazy days on the lazy river and all you could eat/drink. Day 3 and husband said he didn’t feel so hot. This became a quick downward spiral and something that kind of haunts me. Just to highlight Nick is never ever ill, this guy is like iron man, he didn’t have a doctor until he met me because he was just annoyingly invisible… until now. He hardly left the bathroom and was violently sick. Long story short he was severely dehydrated from being so ill so the on site medical unit (which should of raised alarm bells), had to put him on a drip. Yep on a drip. I became so frightened at this point but unfortunately a day later I got struck down. Possibly thee most horrendous case of sickness and diarrhoea I have ever had in my life. I remember curling up in a ball on the tiled floor because my body was hot but I was shaking from being cold.
Luckily I didn’t need a drip. When we both began to feel human we were flying home, but by process of elimination we figured out the problems. We had been eating salads, and drinking from frozen cups. The salad will have obviously been washed in their water and the frozen cups (even though no ice) would of been frozen water essentially. That was the first alarm bell, but the second was a lamb kofta I had and something just didn’t feel right about it so I only ate some. I cannot now eat lamb at all. Mine was food poisoning.
I cannot even put into words how horrific this experience was. Ridiculous heat, lack of bottled water available, (baring in mind I would polish off about 2 litres every few hours when we would go to Spain and it’s cooler there) and obviously under cooked food which I think was just bad luck. The Russians clearly had the right idea by eating everything beige and deep fried!
I’ve also had altitude sickness as well but that is a whole other story – now I need to tell you how to avoid what we went through!
Water – Oh my days do not under estimate the power of water! Think about what you are eating – is it washed in water? It’s all good being healthy but as we discovered that isn’t always a great idea. It will really depend on the country you are heading to. Seek out local shops as on all inclusive holidays you may not have access to lots of water as we discovered. Buy those huge bottles and set an aim to get through at least 1 (if not more) per day.
Tummy tablets – I now will always take Pepto-bismol tablets wherever we go away. My Dad once got food poising when we were away in America and swore by the stuff. Luckily they don’t just do the liquid version, there is also the tablets. Honestly you need these when you travel
Paracetamol – This and ibuprofen can be a great way to bring your temperature down. I must admit I hate to gobble lots of tablets but seriously when you go away you need to do everything you can. Language barriers and the unknown is hideous to deal with.
Hand sanitiser – Believe it or not in Egypt I religiously washed my hands with the stuff. Evidently that didn’t help. Consider the transaction of exchanging money…. wasn’t something I considered until we went to Egypt.
Rehydration Salts – You will lose a lot of your essential nutrients when you basically… poo a lot. You have to replenish your body.
Food – Last thing you often want is food but if you can’t find the right items to ease your tummy, you’ll be unhappy. BRAT -aka bananas, rice, apple sauce and toast. Basically anything simple and bland. My biggest suggestion is popping some plain crackers in your suitcase as a back up. I loved Ritz actually, because they were salty too.
Baby wipes, Talc and Sudocrem – This is where we cross that line… a little more. All of these come in travel size but we all know too much loo can be you SO sore, to the point sitting, standing, doing anything can feel like hell. Go back to basics and think how a baby feels, get baby wipes to clear up the damage (also they are better for the bottom than scratchy loo paper), Sudocream it to stop the soreness then talc it finish off. This would be a ritual if I was poorly at home I’d be doing.
Anti-sun – Obviously if you are ill don’t go in the sun. We basically hid ourselves in the hotel room with the air con on. I’d strongly suggest making sure you have a cap on or head wear even if you aren’t poorly as sunstroke can be a naughty terror too in making you unwell. Suncream is so important anyway, but getting burnt can trigger being poorly abroad. Know your limits and give yourself a sunshine breather.
Hopefully this hasn’t been too graphic but my goodness that trip to Egypt on paper was wonderful, but seriously the most horrific experience of my life. I remember after the 15th loo run in an hour staring into the bathroom mirror sobbing because I felt so poorly and sore. I never want to be in that situation again, and I hopefully have helped give you a little food for thought before you travel. I know it seems like an over cautious way to travel, but I’d rather be comfortable than not and unprepared. Don’t forget all those items can come in travel sizes so you don’t need to cart loads with you.
Good luck in your travels and if you do get ill, hopefully you will be like a girl guide or a scout and be the most prepared you possibly can be.