What better way to use your hard-earned vacation time than with a trip to someplace warm and tropical? Beaches, jungles, fresh fruit, and exciting wildlife are just a few reasons to pick a tropical destination for your next trip.
Traveling to tropical climates can be extremely relaxing and enjoyable. However, it can also be dangerous, due to factors such as extreme weather events and common tropical diseases. Travelers also need to be aware of the laws and customs of the local area, no matter where they travel.
To make the most of your trip and to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable time, it’s important to take certain precautions and travel smart. Here are some tips for staying safe while traveling in the tropics and documenting memories that you’ll look back on for years to come.
Conduct Pre-Trip Research
Once you decide on a tropical destination, the first step is to do some research. What type of weather can you expect at the time you’ll be traveling? Is it safer to visit at some other time of the year? In some places, tropical storms can be very dangerous during certain times of the year, and it’s best to plan your travel accordingly.
You should also look to see if there are any health advisories issued for your destination. If there’s an outbreak of a specific disease or some other health concern that could affect visitors, you’ll want to take precautions or even change your travel plans. Find out which diseases you’ll need to be aware of, such as malaria, yellow fever, and Zika.
Do some research on the local customs and culture as well. You should adapt to the local ways, not the other way around. It’s critical to be a respectful traveler and to obey the local laws and unspoken cultural customs of wherever you’re visiting.
Prepare for the Worst, Hope for the Best
No one wants to believe that they’ll get sick or injured while on vacation. No one wants to think about getting robbed when they’re trying to enjoy a tropical paradise. Unfortunately, these things do happen sometimes and it’s important to be prepared.
Having insurance will give you the peace of mind that you’ll be covered if something goes wrong. Comprehensive travel insurance that includes medical and evacuation insurance is the best way to cover you in all kinds of situations. Make sure to read the fine print so that you understand what is and isn’t covered.
When it comes to insurance, remember that it’s a good thing if you pay for it and never have to use it. However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking “I’m careful, so nothing will ever happen to me— that stuff happens to other people.” Things can and do go wrong, so make sure you have adequate insurance.
Consider Pre-Trip Health and Safety
Before you travel, you might need to get some destination-specific immunizations and/or medications to prevent illness. Talk to your doctor and schedule your vaccine appointment for well before your trip, in case something happens and you need to reschedule.
Your doctor can also provide you with medications to prevent malaria, which you should take exactly as directed. They can also supply you with medications for traveler’s diarrhea, which is a common problem that can spoil a vacation.
Staying Healthy on Your Trip
Once you actually arrive at your destination, you will need to take some additional precautions. In many places, tap water is not safe for travelers to drink. In these destinations, you might have to stick to bottled beverages. You’ll also want to be careful in what you choose to eat, as travelers’ stomachs can be sensitive in a new place with different food types and preparation standards.
It’s also critical to use mosquito repellents and bed nets while on your trip. Add these to your packing list and don’t forget them! Many diseases are spread by mosquitos and other biting insects, so preventing bites is the best way to keep yourself safe, aside from medical preventatives, which aren’t always available.
Use sun protection and stay hydrated while you enjoy your vacation. Sunburn is uncomfortable at best and dangerous at worst. Heatstroke is also a real risk, especially if you’re not used to warmer weather.
Pay Attention to Practical Safety
Common sense rules when it comes to practical safety on vacation. Choose reputable accommodations where you’re unlikely to be the target of theft or violence. Secure your belongings and don’t let them out of your sight when in public places.
These precautions also extend to transportation. Choose safe modes of transportation and verify the transportation providers before you get into a vehicle. Unsafe transportation is a major risk for travelers who are unfamiliar with the area.
Obtain the contact information for local emergency services and your embassy/consulate before you leave for your trip. Stick to well-traveled areas and avoid risky situations whenever possible.
Documenting Your Adventure
Be prepared with everything you’ll need to document your adventure so that you don’t have regrets when you return home. Bringing a phone/camera and a journal will allow you to preserve your memories and share them with others. Take some time each day to jot down some notes and impressions that you can read over later.
In addition to photos, videos made into a documentary of your trip can be a great way to capture the essence of your travel destination and share it with your loved ones. Just be sure to protect your camera equipment from damage and theft during your trip. If possible, have cloud services set up so that you don’t lose your photos and videos in case you lose your phone or camera.
Travel with Respect
Finally, it’s important to realize that when you’re traveling, you are responsible for your behavior. Get familiar with local dress codes and etiquette. Learn some basic phrases. Be polite. Most people will be kind and helpful if you make an effort.
Traveling is an enriching experience when you’re fully prepared and you use common sense. By taking some precautions before you leave and after you arrive, you can reduce the chances of any problems and have an enjoyable, stress-free trip that will give you a chance to relax and get away from it all.