Travelling to the tropics, whether you are planning to hike through exotic rainforests, go diving to see some of the world’s most beautiful reefs or just spend your time lying on a sandy beach, can be an extremely rewarding experience.
However, travelling to tropical regions requires a little extra thought and preparation to help ensure that your trip is as safe and comfortable as possible. In addition to all of the normal essentials when travelling abroad, such as checking the entry requirements, shopping around for travel insurance and packing a phrasebook, here are some of the other important things to consider when travelling to tropical climes:
1. See Your Doctor
Different climates mean a whole new range of different diseases, parasites and other medical considerations which you won’t be used to back home. Before going to any tropical destination, you should always book an appointment with your doctor long before setting off. Your doctor will be able to advise you on any inoculations you may require for a specific destination.
The most important is tetanus, although there are many others such as yellow fever, malaria and avian influenza. Some countries even require that you provide proof that you received certain immunizations before you can enter the country. As should be the case wherever you are going, you should always bring any prescription medicines which you require for the duration of your trip.
2. Take the Right Items
One of the most important considerations when travelling to tropical regions is to pack appropriately. Following are some of the most important things to take with you:
. Sunscreen and after-sun lotion just in case you get sunburn.
. Suitable clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat, sandals, loose-fitting trousers and swimwear.
. Insect repellent. Mosquitoes are a major spreader of tropical diseases, such as malaria.
3. Wear Suitable Clothes
Tropical climates are usually quite predictable, and cold weather is practically unheard of in tropical regions. However, if you are travelling during the rainy season, you will certainly benefit from taking a thin waterproof raincoat. It is particularly important to dress appropriately if you plan to do any hiking in heavily forested areas, especially considering the large number of poisonous insects, snakes and other unfriendly creatures.
If trekking through the jungle, long pants, socks and decent hiking boots are an absolute must, since keeping your legs exposed is sure to invite unpleasant things like leaches and other parasites. A wide-brimmed hat is also a must when you are under the hot tropical sun, and if you get sunburn easily, be sure to minimize your exposure and spend more time covered up or in the shade.
4. Choose Your Food Carefully
Tropical climates are far more likely to lead to unsanitary dining conditions, and just because locals might not get sick doesn’t mean that you won’t either. They are far more likely to be used to the local climate and have stronger stomachs as a result. Above all, be particularly wary of meat and fish sold at market stalls, since such things are far more likely to be infested with parasites after being subjected to the humid tropical heat.
Choose your restaurants carefully as well, particularly in countries which have lower food safety standards than you might be used to back home. If you are not sure where to eat, you will likely be able to get some useful and trustworthy advice from your tour operator or the staff at your hotel or local tourist office.
5. Stay Safe at the Beach
Long, sandy idyllic beaches under the scorching tropical sun are the reason many people venture to the tropics, but it is also important to consider beach safety, since nothing spells a holiday disaster more than getting attacked by a shark or stung by a deadly jellyfish. Provided that you stick to beaches frequented by other swimmers and sunbathers, you should be just fine.
In many regions inhabited by dangerous sea creatures, there are safety nets and lifeguards in place. In certain places, it is also highly recommended that you avoid swimming at night, since this is when many dangerous animals are at their most active. Aside from hostile sea creatures, you should also be wary of undercurrents and waves. For example, some beaches might be great for experienced surfers, but not so suitable for those who just want to have a casual swim.