Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Travel in a world of epidemics

Posted on December 01, 2014 by jimparedes

By Jim Paredes

A lot of people I know were so intimidated by the swine flu that some of them actually canceled their trips to the US and Hongkong and other places a few years back. And now there is ebola!

I do appreciate and understand that people do worry about epidemics and possible contagion. It is a small world now that is so interconnected that diseases originating in some remote place can now spread rapidly everywhere. And it is always good to take precautions.

As someone who travels constantly, I try to stay on top of news about what can make my journey a less than pleasant or safe one. But would I cancel on a place just because there are a few sick people there? Naahh… Not me. Well, except for ebola-stricken places. But it will take more than a few cases of some exotic diseases to put a damper on my travel plans. Maybe a string of bombings, or a sudden increase in prices could keep me at home. But not a few people with sniffles.
Nevertheless, here are a few things that we can do as precautionary measures every time we travel.

1) Always wash your hands. Do this many times a day whether traveling or not. Even the use of a keyboard in some internet café in any city can be cause to take precaution since it has been proven that keyboards used by many people are breeding places for lots of bacteria. Your hands touch your nose and eyes all the time and so it’s good to keep them clean.

2) Take vitamins when you ride a plane. There are no real studies that say that being cooped up in an airplane with people who may be sick can infect you. But it is a fact that people who travel a lot are greatly affected by jetlag, and that can only be stressful on one’s body. A limited study also suggests that on the whole, travelers are more likely to catch cold than non-travelers.

3) If you wear a mask, change it everyday. A mask made moist by your breathing can also be unhealthy for you since it can be a breeding place for bacteria.

4) Avoid foods served in unsanitary conditions. Diarrhea, food poisoning are common experiences among travelers. Through the years, I have learned to be more circumspect about what I eat. It is alright to eat exotic foods particular to a place, but one must be aware of how it is prepared. It is not impolite to ask questions generally about how food is prepared. Street foods are exciting and cheap. Common sense is important to determine if they were prepared safely.

When unsure, bring your own bottled water or source your drinking water from your hotel and carry a thermos.

With a few common sense tips, one can still travel and still feel reasonably safe.

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