Travelling Photographers: Staying Healthy
If there’s one thing that makes it tough, if not impossible, to create great photographs while on location, it’s being waylaid with sickness. So if you’re traveling to an exotic location, the more precautions you take the better your chances of staying upright. Here’s what I do. I’m not a doctor, so take this as a list of ideas and nothing more.
1. One month before I travel i visit my travel medical clinic for a consult with the experts. I’m about as immunized as I can be right now, but they make sure I’m on the right anti-malarials and they give me a prescription for DUKORAL which is an oral cholera vaccine that is also effective against traveler’s diarrhea.
2. I take acidophilus pearls daily while I am on the road, starting a week before I go. This balances the natural/good biotics in your gut and gives you a fighting chance against the badies. Or so I’m told.
3. I take Emergen’C’ daily. It’s a powdered vitamin mix and I figure anything I can do to keep my immunity up through planes, trains, and hotels, is a good move. Plus it makes the bottled water taste better.
4. I hydrate. I don’t like drinking water, so it’s a conscious effort, but I drink 3 litres a day. I buy a case and keep it in my hotel room and I’ve always got some. I brush my teeth with it too.
5. I eat smart. I’m taking more and more risks, but I still tend to eat vegetarian when I can on the road, and I avoid fruit drinks, ice-cubes, raw salads, and pretty much anything that scares me. I’m not Anthony Bourdain, my job is to shoot not eat everything the locals call a delicacy. And I carry meal bars and snacks for those times when the available local food is too dodgy or I’m just not in the mood to brave it.
6. I carry charcoal tablets in case I get shloshy-gut. I also carry immodium but use it only in an emergency – like getting on a plane in a couple hours. It’s better to let your body get rid of what’s going on down there and immodium plugs you up good. On the off-chance I have to use the stuff I also have some laxative to ease me back into things. While I’m at it – Gravol (the natural stuff, not the pink stuff that knocks me out all day), Tylenol, Advil, also get thrown into a bottle. And for the REALLY scary stuff, I carry a course of ciproflaxin, which I don’t take unless I’ve run out of options.
7. I carry twice as much medication, all accompanied with the perscriptions, as I anticipate needing, and I split it and pack it in two separate bags.
8. I carry a decent first-aid kit. Actually I have two. A larger one in my big duffle, and a tiny one that fits in my camera bag with just basics like band-aids, a couple tylenol, some gauze. REI has this kind of thing pre-made for trekkers and travelers.
9. On more remote trips and trips to high HIV areas I carry a sterile sharps kit – 5 – 3cc syringes, 10 needles, 1 suture line, 1 IV drip needle, alcohol swabs, polytopic ointment and 4 gauze dressings. A signed prescription note and certificate of authorization accompany the kit.
10. Lastly, I carry good travel health insurance, mine comes through the Canadian equivalent of AAA. And I carry MedJet Assist – a comprehensive, no-small-print, evacuation insurance in case I am hospitalized which can happen as eaily due to a car accident as it can from eating dodgy moo-goo gai pan.
If all this seems overkill to you remember it’s created by someone who is a Type 1 Diabetic, and travels to some relatively remote places. If your idea of exotic travel is a 5-Star hotel in Vienna, you can safely ignore much of this. But if you’ve got two weeks in Lubumbashi, DRC, then this should be considered a minimum effort. Travel safe, travel healthy.