“Il dolce far niente,“ translated in English, means “the sweetness of doing nothing.” Now that is my idea of a perfect vacation! My sister had just booked herself for a trip and was asking me to be her travel buddy. Without a second thought, I willingly succumbed and cleared my schedule. I was more than ready to vegetate. A few hours into my scheduled getaway, I realized that it was all wishful thinking, this doctor was definitely on call.
Five chubby precious fingers. One five-year-old girl in our tour group was crying her eyes out and calling for her daddy. She had run after her brother to watch the sunset and accidentally caught her hand in the sliding doors. Rushing to her side to assess, I was relieved to note that there was no bleeding or break in the skin, but an x-ray of her hand was needed to rule out any fracture. The clinic was closed and the nearest hospital was miles away, which involved a trip down the mountain. What to do? Spotting a freezer in the gift shop, I was in luck. Popsicles! I needed those to serve as a cold compress and the sticks to immobilize her hand with. Five people instantly volunteered to eat the sweet treats. That was a proud moment. I finally had the chance to play MacGyver, female version.
It comes in threes. Upon learning that there was a doctor in the house, a woman quickly sought me out. She had been diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and had forgotten her medications. Would it be possible for me to write her a prescription? Sure, I said, but since I was not licensed to practice there, the chances were very slim. True enough, it was not honored. Fortunately, I had brought a supply of an antibiotic with the same spectrum of activity. Hopefully, the infection would resolve. That done, another member of her family subsequently sustained a wound. I had a topical antibiotic in my go bag. Problem solved.
Did I say three? Let me add a fourth. Days into the tour, a lady in her late 60s suddenly felt faint. The travel guide had no blood pressure apparatus. I gave her water and asked what her last meal was. Was she having some form of hypoglycemia or a hypertensive crisis? There was no neck pain, severe headache, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, or blurring of vision. In my mind, that was at least reassuring. Forcing her to rest, I let the tour guide know, just in case we needed to pay a visit to the emergency room. God heard my prayers.
Be prepared. That was the single most important realization. Going on vacation still requires thoughtful planning, including a personal health check done weeks before, especially if you are suffering from a chronic condition. Bring enough supplies to last you for the duration of the trip, and add a little extra for unexpected travel disruptions. Know where the nearest health facility is in the area.
Other practical tips. Get travel insurance. Update your vaccination status. Avoid undercooked food, tap water, or ice in your drink. Do not overindulge if at all possible. Watch your alcohol intake.
Keep a go bag that will include: paracetamol, mefenamic acid, an antiseptic, antibacterial wipes and ointment, antimotion sickness medication, antacids, anti-allergy pills, an insect repellant, and sunscreen. Wear comfortable clothing.
Cell phone/charger? Check
Credit card, cash? Check.
Clothes, toiletries, and personal effects? Check.
Hand sanitizer? Check.
Beauty/hygiene kit? Check.
Extra masks? Check.
Comfortable shoes? Check.
Neck pillow? Check.
Go bag? Check.
Travel insurance? Check.
Doctor’s phone number? Check.
Hard candy, breath mints? Check.
Forgot something? Check.
Last but not the least, arm yourself with the right attitude. Pray that you be that boy or girl scout and do a good turn daily. Take time to learn first aid. This will definitely come in handy wherever you may be.
BTW, it also would not hurt to make your tour guide your best friend. CHECK!
Wishing you safe travels.
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