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5 Of The Worst Places In The World To Get Sick

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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 13, 2022

10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

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10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

A honeymoon is important.  The wedding is over.  The months, or even years, of stress and planning are finally over.  It’s time for the two of you to relax, settle in, and start enjoying your time together as you embark on your first journey as a family.

To make the most of this time for the least amount of money, it’s important to focus on what you want out of a honeymoon.  This isn’t your typical list of touristy honeymoon locations everyone goes to.  Rather, it’s a list of cheap honeymoon experiences a couple can enjoy together, regardless of where it’s at.

1. Camping

A week long camping trip is a fantastic way to see how you mesh together as a couple.  You’re put in a low impact “survival” situation where it’s just the 2 of you and nature.  You have a chance to see how your new spouse handles themselves when left with the basics of life.  There are amazing national parks all over the United States where you can camp for a week for $20-30, disconnect from technology, and enjoy some of the natural wonders our nation has to offer.

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2. Staycation

You don’t have to go anywhere for a honeymoon.  In fact, the tradition of taking a honeymoon vacation is a relatively new one.  Prior to the 19th century, a honeymoon involved staying home together for a month to get to know each other physically.  Think of how blissful it could be to take a full month off work, disconnect from the outside world, and focus entirely on projects together.  You may not be wowing your friends and family with pictures of some exotic location, but they’ll be envious of your escape from the rat race nonetheless.

3. Island Getaway

People tend to overspend on their honeymoon vacations to Hawaii, Tahiti, etc.  Going to these places doesn’t have to be expensive.  You don’t need to stay in a 5 star resort when you’re on a Best Western budget.  You’re there to be in the atmosphere of the island, not a hotel room. Book a cheap flight and sleep in a hotel alternative, on the beach or in your car.  It’s the view in paradise that really matters.

4. Fancy Resort

Book an expensive resort, spa, or retreat in the city you live in.  While this may seem counterintuitive as a cheap destination, when you consider your savings on airfare and other travel costs, you can afford to be treated like royalty within your own city limits.  If you book a honeymoon package, you’ll end up with a lot of free amenities and extra attention.  There’s no need to fly halfway across the world to live the good life.

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5. Road Trip

The journey is often more fulfilling than the actual destination.  If you fly out to some exotic locale, you’ll be stuck on a plane for 8-30 hours.  Rent a luxury car, pick a handful of places you each have always wanted to visit, and go on an adventure.  You can keep food costs down by packing your own snacks, but it’s always a good idea to sample the local delicacies wherever you go, even if it’s only a few states over.

6. Charter a Boat

If the ocean is your thing, a week-long cruise can cost you $1500-$3000 per person, depending on the destination.  You also have to factor in travel costs to and from the cruise, alcohol, souvenirs, and on-shore excursions.  You’ll also be surrounded by people.  For the same price (and often much cheaper), you can charter your own boat and enjoy the experience in private.

7. Las Vegas/Atlantic City

If gambling is your thing, these are the places to do it.  Which one you choose depends on your preference, budget, and proximity.  The way to make this vacation cheaper is to gamble smart.  Stay away from low odd tables (i.e craps, roulette) and read up on the MIT blackjack strategies to beat the house.  If you do it right, you can win enough for a free trip (and gain a valuable team skill in the process).

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8. Themed Retreats

There are weeklong retreats all over the world where you can fully immerse yourselves as a couple into a hobby you’re both passionate about.  Go on a yoga/meditation retreat, a ranch, a vineyard/farm, a backpacking adventure, treasure hunt, or whatever you’re into.

9. Working Honeymoon

Your honeymoon doesn’t have to be a vacation.  For a truly memorable experience, dedicate a week to a charity or volunteer organization.  You can drive out to a campground to help restore it in the offseason.  Maybe you’ve always wanted to volunteer to help out your local animal shelter, plant trees, help the homeless, etc.  Use the time to do something together as a couple that will fulfill you spiritually while contributing to the community.  Just because you’re on a honeymoon doesn’t mean you can’t be productive.

10. Festivals, Fairs & Special Events

Every city, state, and country has festivals, fairs, and special events.  Find one you’re interested in.  If you time your wedding right, your honeymoon can be a trip to one of these festivals.  Burning Man, SXSW, Bonnaroo, the Renaissance Fair, regional harvest festivals, Mardi Gras, New Years Eve in Times Square, a movie premiere, or whatever you’re into.  If you plan your honeymoon at the right time in the right place, the possibilities are endless.

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Featured photo credit: Josue Michel via unsplash.com

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