If you get sick abroad, your travel plans and finances may take a hit. Trip itinerary changes, re-booking fees, and unexpected medical costs can add up and cause unnecessary stress. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget or ignore health considerations that we take for granted back home. Fortunately, many travel-related illnesses can be minimized by following simple hygiene practices, such as washing your hands.
We can’t stress this enough. You should always wash your hands regularly and thoroughly during travel (and at home too).
Our hands carry thousands of microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria. Many are harmless but some are responsible for illnesses like the common cold, influenza, travellers’ diarrhea, and Hepatitis A. Since we touch our face hundreds of times a day – often unconsciously – unwanted germs enter our body through our eyes, mouth, and nose to attack our immune system.
Every day we come into contact with surfaces or food contaminated by someone who hasn’t washed their hands properly. For example, unwanted germs can hitch a ride on our hands when we exchange currency, touch railings, use automated bank machines, eat improperly handled or cooked food, or practice poor body and toilet hygiene.
Washing your hands is also proven to save lives. Not only are you protecting your health, you have the power to break the cycle and prevent others from getting sick. Proper hand washing reduces the chance of children, older persons, and those with chronic conditions or a compromised immune system from developing health complications.
Here’s a reminder of when and how to wash your hands properly.
Last reviewed and updated: December 11, 2020.
Image from the World Health Organization.