As a digital nomad you need WiFi connection to be able to function, but this doesn’t mean you won’t be traveling to remote, poor parts of the world. One of the problems of such countries is the fact they lack a good healthcare service, which is an important factor for someone who is traveling around the world. Why? Because when you get sick, you might get in severe trouble!
Of course, no one wants to be sick, but you do have to consider the possibility; after all, you’re spending couple of weeks in many exotic countries, where there are exotic ailments and exotic foods.
Being ill in a foreign country is more complicated than not being able to explain to doctors what bothers you.
Brazil and Zika virus
Yes, Zika is an issue in many developing countries and third world countries. But the most severe cases are in Brazil, where the outbreak reached amazing proportions since 2015. Zika is a problem in South America, Africa and South Asia, so you should avoid any mosquito bites in these areas. The same species of mosquitoes which carry Zika, also carry other viruses, such as malaria, yellow fever and Dengue fever. In all the areas where there is or was an outbreak of the disease, the medical personnel is overwhelmed by the number of patients, which makes getting proper care a real nightmare.
To protect yourself from this virus you can only use mosquitoes repellents, as there is no vaccine available to this point. Avoid open spaces and wear long pants and blouses, to minimize the risks of bites.
China, the big dilemma
In large Chinese cities healthcare is not a problem: there are lots of high quality hospitals, where skilled doctors work. However, the problem comes when you travel deeper into the country. In less developed cities and remote areas, hospitals lack proper hygiene and medical supplies. When it comes to sterile items, they are missing, which makes doctors reuse needles and other consumables.
With HIV being settled in China, reusing a needled is a real Russian roulette game for the patient.
If you happen to get sick in China and you’re not in Beijing or other large city, make sure the medical personnel doesn’t reuse anything on you. If needed, bring your own medical supplies and never stay in doubt when you have to be vocal to avoid a non-sterile practice.
Mexico and Montezuma’s revenge
Ever heard about Montezuma’s revenge? It’s not a curse, but diarrhea. And it is link to Mexico for a reason: contaminated tap water! When you are in this developing country – or another one, for that matter – you should never drink tap water. The water system is not safe and the fluid gets contaminated with human feces and toxins, which lead to severe diarrhea in both locals, but especially foreigners.
It’s estimated that half the tourists coming to Mexico get diarrhea, which means you are probably going to brace yourself for this situation.
Never use tap water as it is for washing your food, shaving or brushing: boil it first, then cool it down and use it. When you shower, make sure you keep your mouth closed to avoid ingesting tap water.
India and inconsistent healthcare
If you get sick in India while traveling around the world you need to consider the same problems as in China and Mexico. Tap water is contaminated and proper healthcare is only available in large cities. Adding to this, malaria is a major problem in India.
If you are going to travel to India you should get anti-malaria treatment, especially if you are likely to reach remote areas. Typhoid fever, hepatitis and yellow fever are also common ailments in India, so you should be getting the preventative treatment before reaching this country. Never rush to India: the preventative therapy must be done up to six weeks before traveling to the country. If you do get ill, you will face a lot of poor hospitals, where lack of sterile medical supplies and hygiene are major problems.
Middle East is not an oasis for nomads traveling around the world and one example of this fact is Morocco. This country is filled with amazing sightings, but if you want to stay healthy you need to protect yourself from sun and heat. Drink plenty of water and avoid staying outside in the noon; using SPF lotion is a must. This is because travelers are prone to suffer from heatstrokes, especially in the hot season.
If you have to go to a medical facility, make sure you do it in large cities; just like China and India, the medical care in Middle East is full of underdeveloped and undersupplied hospitals. If you are asked to sign anything, make sure you read the small fonts, as Morocco doctors are notorious for overcharging foreigners. The best option you have is to get a private insurance which includes emergency evacuation.
All in one, make sure you rely on bottled water in underdeveloped countries and you keep an eye on who and where is your food prepared. Don’t forget to exercise and have a second plan if things don’t go as expected. This way, you will be able to enjoy your stay in pretty much any part of the world.