We wholeheartedly believe that travel is an essential part of life. The experiences we collect while traveling are worth all the risks that might go with it. But that doesn’t mean you should venture out blindly. We have compiled a list of the top five health risks while traveling according to the World Health Organization.
The Top 5 Health Risks for Travelers & How to Avoid Them
1 - Environmental Risks
The most common risk to your health while traveling is likely an abrupt or dramatic change to your environment. Your body gets accustomed to specific surroundings. It knows how to defend against the risks in your everyday environment, but there is no guarantee it will know how to defend against the new ones you are about to expose it to.
Whether you are traveling to a low or middle-income country known for having water contamination or you are traveling to a wealthy European country situated in a higher elevation, there is a good chance your body will need help acclimating. The highest risk comes from the airplane cabin itself. Airplanes are a hub for environmental risks between air pressure, altitude, and tight shared space.
Potential risk factors include:
Changes in altitude, temperature, or humidity.
Exposure to microbes, animals, and insects.
Ways to Minimize the Risk:
To reduce the negative effects of elevation or air pressure change, stretch often. It will help keep your body limber and maintain healthy blood flow through the body. Using compression socks on the plane helps reduce swelling.
Use sun protection and cooling agents when visiting hot climates.
Avoid sketchy restaurants or street food; do your best not to over-indulge in unhealthy food.
Avoid unsanitary or dangerous accommodations. It’s worth the extra expense to ensure you are safe while you sleep. As a 2xcape member, you can enjoy safe and comfortable lodging while also saving a lot of money.
Pack your own snacks to avoid impulse eating.
Avoid petting wild animals.
Use insect repellent.
2 - Risk of Infectious Diseases
Depending on your travel destination, you could be exposed to a number of different infectious diseases. The risk level, of course, varies depending on the purpose of your trip and what activities you have planned. Other factors are your accommodations, hygiene, sanitation, and personal behavior. Since 2020, the most common infectious disease travelers are at risk of catching is COVID-19. That said, since the pandemic's start, the risk level has decreased significantly.
Ways to Minimize the Risk
Practicing caution around animals
Avoid unhygienic food or water.
3 - Risk of Accidents
Generally speaking, we are all at a higher risk of getting into an accident while traveling. We are in unfamiliar territory…literally. You are far more likely to make a mistake navigating the roads in a foreign city, domestic or international, than on your home turf. Plus, vacations force us to get out of our comfort zones. We are more likely to take risks and try something new while traveling, which opens us up to possible accidents, especially if water sports are involved!
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take risks, but be prepared. And if you do plan on stepping out of your comfort zone, take precautions.
Ways to Minimize the Risk
Pay attention to your surroundings.
Review local traffic laws
Seek guidance from locals if needed
4 - Risk of Violence
According to the WHO, interpersonal violence is a big risk in a lot of low to middle-income countries. Most of these countries are stunning inexpensive destinations ideal for anyone looking to have an epic adventure on a budget. But the trade-off is that you are at a higher risk of being the victim of a crime.
Check travel advisories for your specific destination before you leave. There you will learn of what potential risks you should be cautious. It is updated regularly and if any political conflicts arise, it will be noted.
Ways to Minimize the Risk (in Country)
You should moderate your consumption of alcohol and other substances that might impair your judgment.
Avoid any verbal arguments and leave a place if you feel threatened or uncomfortable. Always lean on the side of caution.
Be alert to possible muggings and keep your belongings zipped up and on your person. All valuable items are to stay out of sight, and you should never carry large sums of money on your person.
Keep car doors locked and windows shut, and remain alert while operating a vehicle.
If you use a taxi, double-check their credentials and make sure they are from authorized ranks only.
Park in well-lit areas and avoid isolated beaches or remote areas.
If armed robbers stop you, experts say to make no attempts to resist and keep your hands where attackers can see them.
5 - Risks to Your Mental Health
You can plan and prepare all you want, but travel is unpredictable. There are a million little things that are out of your control. The possibility and inevitability of something going wrong can lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety. On top of that, if you take medication on a regular schedule, the change in routine can lead to missed dosages.
Ways to Minimize the Risks
If you have a history of mental health issues, consult your doctors, therapists, or psychologists to learn their specific recommendations for you.
Set up pill reminders on your phone so the time change doesn’t interfere with your medication schedule.
Make sure all medications are easily accessible.
Utilize self-care tools like meditation, calming music, and aromatherapy to maintain a calm mentality.
Be prepared. Research and plan ahead, and then be prepared for something to go wrong. If you expect something to happen, you won’t feel as stressed when it does.
In the end,
We know this might sound scary, but don’t let the potential risks outweigh the inevitable joy that you will experience when you get out and explore this beautiful world. The fact is, living a fulfilling life comes with a certain level of risk. So long as you take precautions and stay alert and aware, you should be just fine traveling.