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5 Of The Worst Places In The World To Get Sick

5 Of The Worst Places In The World To Get Sick

Traveling abroad can be an incredible and enlightening experience. But if you intend to stay abroad in a foreign country for a few days or weeks, then you have to remember that not every country’s health care system is up to the standards of the West.

Countries like Iraq, Syria, and North Korea have dismal healthcare systems thanks to war and poverty, but few tourists make plan to visit those countries. But tourists should in fact be leery of many popular tourist destinations and their health risks.

Here are five places where tourists should take particular care of their health, both in preventing illnesses and in ensuring proper treatment when ill.

1. Mexico

Traveler’s diarrhea is nicknamed “Montezuma’s revenge” for a reason. Any travel guide will tell you that if you carelessly eat contaminated food or drink the tap water in Mexico or other developing nations, you will find yourself laid up for about three to five days and need to go to the bathroom frequently. This disease results from bits of human feces or garbage which can contaminate your food or water. About 30 to 50 percent of travelers to tropical destinations like Mexico will get this disease, so it is critical to be prepared.

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Boiling tap water or drinking bottled water will prevent one of the main causes of this disease, but that is not enough. You cannot eat foods which have been washed with tap water. This means eating no unpeeled raw fruit or vegetables, such as apples and lettuce. Furthermore, water used for brushing and shaving should also be purified, and try to avoid swallowing any shower water.

2. China

China is an interesting case. Health care in cities like Beijing and Nanjing is adequate, if not on par with the West. But if you travel into the interior, things start to get dicey. Hospitals are not as sterile, and doctors and nurses will not hesitate to reuse needles. The latter should be particularly concerning given that HIV has made inroads into the Chinese population.

One thing which visitors to any hospital should do is make it clear that they will not accept any blatantly unsanitary practices like reused needles, and perhaps carry their own supplies just in case. Doctors and nurses will undoubtedly grouse afterwards about the arrogant, whiny foreigner. But if the choice is between hurting someone else’s feelings or risking a deadly disease, it should be obvious what is the proper choice.

3. India

India has many of the problems which afflict Mexico and China. Its health care facilities outside the major cities are problematic and it is advised to purify any food and water before consumption.

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But unlike those countries, India is noticeable for having a problem with malaria. Even though this disease has been all but eradicated in the Western world, about 40,000 Indians die from the disease every year.  Furthermore, malaria is present throughout all of the non-mountainous regions of India, though it is worse in East India around the area of Kolkata.

Travelers planning to go to India should see about getting preventative medicine for malaria, in addition to vaccinations for typhoid fever, Hepatitis A and B, and maybe even yellow fever if you are passing through a country with a risk of that disease. This preparation should take place four to six weeks before departing.

4. Morocco

There is more to being healthy than just eating the right foods and avoiding diseases. In much of the Middle East, you will have to take care to avoid heatstroke, especially if you plan to vacation there in the summer. In Morocco, this is even more of a concern with the inconsistent level of health care you are likely to receive.

Many expats have reported that medical facilities, outside the main cities, are basic. It is advisable for anyone visiting the country to get private insurance. There is also other salient advice to follow when visiting this North African country.

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As a tourist who may not be used to such heat, you should probably do the same thing. Drink plenty of (purified) water and wait until it cools down before you explore the beautiful beaches or the rich culture there.

If you do end up needing medical care, make sure you read the fine print of any hospital forms you will be signing. It is not unheard of for healthcare professionals to charge significantly more to tourists and hospital negligence continues to be a problem. Taking out private insurance is a must but also make sure that your cover includes emergency evacuation and repatriation.

5. Aboard a cruise ship

A cruise ship may not pose the same health risks as a village in the Chinese interior, but the luxury which you can find aboard a cruise can pose opposite health problems. Eating too much good food too quickly combined with the roiling of a ship can lead to nausea, seasickness, and a cruise where you end up spending way too much time in the bathroom.

Moderation is key to all health. Eat in moderation, get exercise outside by walking on deck when you can, and do not get completely drunk. All those things will ensure that you actually enjoy yourself and do not end up with a vicious headache or worse.

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Traveling abroad without preparing is a foolhardy enterprise, and this applies above all to your health. But this does not mean that you should stay home in fear of a few days’ diarrhea. Some risk-taking is acceptable, and as long as you take adequate health and safety measures, you will gain the experience of a lifetime.

Featured photo credit: Nick Kenrick via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 25, 2021

What Should I Do Today? 30 New Things To Do Today

What Should I Do Today? 30 New Things To Do Today

It’s always fun to do something new, but often we fall into the trap of spending our weekends the same way.

If you’re stuck in the same old routine, it might be time to try something new.

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What should I do today? No ideas?

Everything listed here is something you can easily do no matter where you live, and even on a tight budget! Try out one of these 30 new things today, you’ll be happy you did.

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Try Out These 30 New Things To Do Today

  1. Visit a suburb in your city that you’ve never been to before, or somewhere you haven’t explored much.
  2. Learn ten phrases in a new language–what about Japanese, Italian or Portuguese?
  3. Listen to a genre of music you haven’t tried before–perhaps Jazz, Punk or Blues?
  4. Have a picnic in your local park complete with a packed lunch and your animal friends.
  5. Start a daily journal to write your thoughts in.
  6. Try a new cuisine–what about French, Lebanese or Korean?
  7. Visit your local library and borrow some books for the weekend.
  8. Plant some flowers in your garden. If you don’t have one, try an indoor potted plant.
  9. Visit a local museum or art gallery and view their latest exhibition.
  10. Learn a new skill–what about sewing, gardening or cooking? You’ll be surprised what you can learn in an afternoon.
  11. Say hello to a neighbor you don’t usually talk to.
  12. Make a card for a friend and send it to them with a handwritten note.
  13. Learn how to cook a new dish for dinner. We all get tired of eating the same thing, why not try making something new?
  14. Re-read an old favorite book. Don’t leave it gathering dust on your book shelf; get it out and read it all over again.
  15. Research the culture of a different country online–what about India, Guatemala or Sweden?
  16. Go for a walk or bicycle ride around your neighborhood.
  17. Watch a classic film like Casablanca, The Godfather or The Wizard of Oz.
  18. Make a photo album of a recent holiday you took. Don’t let your memories get lost on your computer hard drive; make a special keepsake album of your trip.
  19. Visit your local farmers markets and pick out some fresh produce. Farmers markets are full of delicious fresh fruit, veggies and more. Find your local market and take a visit.
  20. Plan a day trip to somewhere outside your city–it might be the seaside, mountains or another city!
  21. Check out what community events are running in your area and attend one.
  22. Make a birthday present for a friend. Handmade gifts are personal and much more special than anything you could buy from a store.
  23. Attend a play at your local theater. Support your local theater and have a fun night out at the same time.
  24. Volunteer with your local nature conservation society to plant some trees. Conservation societies are always looking for helping hands; do your bit and plant some trees.
  25. Be a tourist in your own city and visit all the popular tourist sites you’ve likely never been to (don’t forget your camera!)
  26. Call a friend you haven’t spoken to recently and have a good long chat.
  27. Put on your favorite song and dance your heart out. You might be surprised at how much fun you have!
  28. Invite some friends over for a BBQ. There’s nothing better than an afternoon spent with good friends and good food.
  29. Try out a new form of exercise like Pilates, tennis or swimming.
  30. Organize a clothing swap with your friends. You’ll have a great time, and save some cash and the environment all at the same time!

Now that you’ve read my list of 30 new things to try today, my question for you is, “what new things will you try today?”

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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