Going to the Tropics? Here Are Some Tips for Avoiding Travel Sickness and Prevent Tummy Bugs

To beat the icy snow in Europe this year, I know a lot of friends of mine made a quick get away with their entire family to the sunny tropics for some long awaited time in real sunshine–none of that hazy, cloud covered stuff we experience all day long in Europe. While a sunny year end and new year is joy that is mostly full of ups, there can be downs when visiting countries that are filled with new experiences–new weather, new foods, new living habits, and new practically everything else.

beach holiday

When travelling to the tropics, one becomes exposed to a completely new surrounding and mode of living, which, if you’re not careful, can start to bring on common travel-related problems with motion sickness, nausea, sore throat, lightheadedness, and insomnia or disturbed sleep/dreams.

Over the years of travelling to sunny, tropical destinations in India, Vietnam, and the Philippines, I’ve met other travellers who’ve shared their tried and true safety travel tips and advice for avoiding travel sickness, tummy bugs, fevers, and viral infections. Morsels of wisdom through experience from other travellers is often the biggest help when it comes to striking out to somewhere new. Keeping that in mind, here are a couple things that I’ve learned during my travels to help prevent travel sickness.

Research and prepare before you go. Researching and studying up about the places you’re going can help you prepare in advance for any potential health risks in the area you are visiting. Right along with visas, airfare bookings, and stay options, do a bit of research on the most common health risks or diseases in that area. It’s not very easy to avoid what you don’t know about. Once you know the risks, you can pack your medication and basic travel first aid kit accordingly.

travel first aid kit in case

If in doubt, check up with your doctor for advice on the right medication before you go. He/she would be able to inform you about any shots or prescriptions medications you should take. Once you’ve done that, pack in relation to your research…and the advice of those who’ve gone there before you.

Plan ahead/pack ahead. Never assume that you can “just buy it” when you get there. It’s very rare, and mostly never the case, that you will find the same products and brands that you are used to back at home. If there are medications that you need to take on a daily basis, insect repellent that goes better with your skin type, or tissues that you rather prefer, pack it. The same goes with little snacks. Don’t assume that street food will be a safe bet as your resistance may not be ready for it. Basic things that any traveler should pack are:

Travel first aid kit (band aids, antiseptic healing cream or powder, wound dressing, healing ointment, etc.)
Insect repellent cream, spray, or role on
A mosquito net if you plan to camp outdoors, or on roof tops
Sunscreen
Any vitamins or medications that you need on a daily basis
Travel sized toiletries
Stand-in snacks for when you first arrive
Toilet paper (Don’t bet on every tropical place having this…some don’t.)
Sanitary pads (Some people are adaptable with different brands, but if you’re not, best to carry the one you’re most comfortable with.)
Your usual makeup, wipes, etc
Digestive aids

This is just the basic list of travel essentials. You may need to add or subtract from it depending on the length and destination of your travels.

Digestive aids. Your digestive system may not be as adventurous as you are. Adjusting to new flavours, spices, and tastes may be a bit hard on your tummy for the first few days. If you have an especially sensitive stomach, I suggest you pack Imodium or Pepto-Bismol, both can help protect your chances of getting diarrhoea or vomiting, and both provide exceptionally fast relief if you already have diarrhoea. Take it along just in case.

Drink plenty of bottled water and virgin drinks. Don’t drink beverages that are open air or without a sealed cap. This will help protect you from any germs that breed in open, still water. Remember, your body and digestive system are used to a very different climate. If there is a chance of coconut water, though, that’s usually a safe bet. It’s fresh, it’s pure, and it’s a great hydrant for your system. Drinking plenty of water, also helps keep your resistance up. It protects you from nausea and over sun exposure, since the tropics can get pretty hot.

Lastly, check well in advance that you’ve packed everything you need and you’ve not missed anything. Enjoy your travels and have fun while you go. Be open to changes, and stay flexible. The tropics can be full of adventure and surprises.

Happy travels!