One of the main concerns people have when traveling to Mexico and Central America is usually about staying healthy. The area has a reputation for not having the cleanest water or street food stands. It is also a tropical region where mosquitoes and other, not so welcome, animals and insects abound.
All those things are true but after years taking some time to slowly explore the area, I learned that there are several small and easy things that you can do to keep annoying illnesses away.
But it you want to have a good time exploring the area my main recommendation is to relax. Your vacation can get completely ruined if you get paranoid about anything. So, follow my recommendations and have fun.
Keep Your Stomach Safe
About one-quarter of travelers are forced to alter their plans because of stomach issues. Around 5% need to seek medical care due to poor planning. This kind of digestive upset can occur while traveling for many reasons. A change in routine, diet, exercise, travel stress, and even exposure to foreign bacteria.
Gut health is truly what it’s all about. And having good gut health will be the difference between gallivanting and enjoying yourself or being bedridden.
So, I’d recommend using something like Travelan®. It is an over the counter dietary supplement of clinically proven strength which offers digestive tract protection and helps the body to maintain normality. By taking them, you can maintain a healthy digestive system by supporting the gut’s immune defenses. This way when you travel your gut will be protected.
Travelan® has been extensively tested and numerous research studies have been conducted, including research programs performed by the US Department of Defense. It is an essential component of my packing list and should be on yours for your next trip either at home or abroad. It can be purchased online through Amazon (use code 10SAVETEN for 10% off) or from Passport Health Clinics across America.
Stay Away from Shady Street Food Stalls
I love local dishes and encourage everyone to give as many of them a go as you can. It is an important part of getting to know a country and its culture. The tastes and ingredients help tell the story of the place in a unique and almost always delicious way.
The problem with this is that often the best tasting food is found on street stalls or tiny eateries. And yes, you will be already protected by Travelan® but there is no need to risk it right? So how do you decide where to eat?
First, I would recommend starting with restaurants offering traditional food, there are plenty of those. There are also several small eateries that usually tend to be clean, you can do a quick assessment of that as you walk in. But if your head is really set on getting the authentic experience of sitting on the street while looking at how your food is prepared there are a couple of things that you can keep an eye open for so that you can do a better job at deciding on the right place.
- Take your time – look at the cook’s work, are they being sanitary while preparing other’s food? Are they using too much fat? How are the ingredients stored?
- Are there any animals nearby? – Make sure there aren’t any pets near the food. Some people make the mistake of having their cats and/or dogs too close from the food, this can cause contamination. Or even worse, can you see tons of flies around? Those are a definite NO.
- Are there any other travelers eating there? – Seeing tons of locals is great, but it is even better if you see foreigners who might not have a gut that is accustomed to local bacteria. This usually means it is safe.
Stick to Filtered Water
Central America and most parts of Mexico are known for not having the best practices when it comes to disinfecting water so stay away from tap water.
The problem is, that if you are like me, you don’t like having to buy tons of plastic bottles of water every time you want to drink something. What I like to do instead is to carry around a water bottle with a filter incorporated. They aren’t the cheapest of water bottles, but they will save you money in the long run.
In Antigua, Guatemala you will even find a lot of restaurants and some hostels that use Eco Filter and will gladly refill your water bottle for free.
Keep the Bugs Away
The main bugs to keep an eye on while traveling in the region are mosquitoes and ticks. Because they can transmit some nasty illnesses. Keeping away spiders and other bugs is also good, mainly for your comfort.
Therefore, it is a good idea to get yourself a good, organic and nontoxic repellent that you can apply often. You can, of course, use any other kind but, if you are going to be applying it on your skin often and smelling it all the time, it is best to choose something that won’t cause any harm to you.
You can bring these with you but there are also stores selling all sorts of natural products in the main touristic cities and towns of the area.
Oils On Your Bed
Another great technique that I learned while exploring the more remote areas of Central America that are surrounded by forests or jungles was to always carry one or a combination of essential oils.
The Lavender, Eucalyptus and Citronella essential oils are known locally as ways to keep bugs away. Plus, they smell great and cause no harm to your health, so why not sprinkle some of them over your hotel bed and even your suitcase?
This will lower the risk of any unwanted bugs to crawl up on your bed. This way you can sleep in peace and get dressed without fearing that there is something crawling on your clean clothes.
Bonus: Now that you have your first aid kit complete with Travelan® and know what to do while traveling to avoid getting sick you need to get travel insurance. If you have been following me for a while you might already know that I’m huge on this. All precautions you might take to stay healthy won’t be able to stop accidents or lesions 100%, so get one that covers medical expenses abroad.
To obtain more information on Travelan® and for where to purchase the product, visit http://www.travelan.com/ .
* This blog post was sponsored by Travelan® *
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