We visited a travel doctor before we left and got the recommended vaccines (Hep A and B, Yellow Fever, TDAP), filled various prescriptions (antibiotics, anti nausea, etc), and refilled our travel medical kit (bandaids, bacitracin, etc). We also got the Rabies vaccination as we were planning to work with animal rescue organizations. We didn’t take the Malaria meds, this obviously is a personal choice. Following is a list of other health related items we made sure we packed with us:
Anti-Itch: Bugs, and bug bites, are a fact of life on a trip like this. We used a variety of repellants, but still managed to get bitten! To relieve the itch, we relied heavily on AfterBite which works great for temporary relief for most bites. Our friend Erica told us that TigerBalm works to relieve the itchy sand flea bites, and does it ever! We had this brought to us when Victoria’s parents visited and wish we had had it on the entire trip. Pack extra Tiger Balm, you won’t regret it!
Bug Spray or Lotion: We used a variety of different insect repellants on this trip. Coleman Botanicals actually protected against the sand fleas, is DEET free, and it smells great. Jungle Formula is 20% DEET, and worked really well against mosquitoes. We also used the Jungle Formula Roll On, which is also DEET free and kept the sand fleas away, but left weird stripes on our arms and legs. We also washed our clothes with permethrin before we left and a couple of times again on the trip.
Lifesaver Water Filter Bottle: The Lifesaver Filter bottle promises to remove microbiological contamination from water, whilst on the move. You can scoop up water from lakes, streams and rivers and produce clean, safe water whilst moving. We never had to use it but the LifeSaver Excursion Kit for Two (produces 4,000 liters of clean, drinking water per bottle!) seemed like a worthwhile item to bring just in case. It now lives in our bug-out bag in case of fire or earthquake evacuation.
Sun Block: We used a large variety of sunblocks and this would seem like a given, but we met a couple from Canada who had forgotten to pack it. Don’t forget your sunblock. Brands we love and highly recommend are: MDSolarSciences, Neutrogena, NIA24, and philosophy. Bring more than you think you’ll need as not only will you use it faster than you can imagine, but once you leave the US sunblock gets hard to find and is expensive.