Backpacking is, perhaps, the most exciting way to travel the world.
Not only is it budget-friendly (and perfect for penny pinching students), but it’s also a very socially and culturally immersive way to experience a country, its people and other like-minded visitors. But keeping clean and practicing the highest levels of hygiene is important if you want to avoid picking up nasty infections or getting sick.
Health and Hygiene Tips for Backpackers
Here are a few helpful tips to help you stay clean and safe abroad.
1. Take Malaria Tablets
If the country you want to travel to is at high risk of malaria, make sure you take malaria tablets. There are many different types or tablets you can take, with some starting a week before you arrive (so don’t leave this until last minute).
2. Wash Your Hands
The average person touches their face between 2000 and 3000 times a day, so clean hands are a must! According to the World Health Organisation, one million lives could be saved every year if everyone washed their hands. A shocking and scary fact about hands and the passing of disease and infection, right?
3. Carry Hand Sanitiser Everywhere
Hand sanitiser is great if you can’t wash your hands under a tap. But it’s not just a substitute, it can also be used as an additional measure. Alcohol-based sanitising sprays or gels can kill most types of bacteria, viruses and fungi in a matter of seconds, giving you added piece of mind.
4. Cover up Your Toothbrush
Don’t let your toothbrush go naked in your backpack. Buy a toothbrush cap, a case or keep it in a ziplock bag to avoid contamination from dirt and bacteria.
5. Check for Vaccinations!
First things first, you will need to get vaccinated before you travel. Make an appointment with your doctor, who can tell you which vaccines you will need for every destination in the world. Some vaccinations can only take effect when they have been done a few months in advance, so make sure you’re organised.
6. Pack Water Purification Tablets
If you’re heading somewhere really remote, you might want to consider packing these. Water purification tablets are a good emergency measure when you don’t have access to a clean source of drinking water. For wilderness backpacking, this is a must.
7. Always Bring Spare Carrier Bags
Spare carrier bags will always come in handy, and when you’ve been travelling with the same clothes and equipment for months, you will want a way to separate your luggage. Keep dirty clothing and towels in carrier bags so they don’t make your clean laundry smell.
8. Choose Breathable Shoes
Breathable walking shoes are a great solution to feet that get sweaty and can clear a room with their pungent stench. It’s also advisable to pack some foot spray to help eliminate those odours. It’s the kindest thing you can do for your fellow travellers.
9. Buy Quick Dry Clothing
If you want an easy way to keep your t-shirts cleaner for longer, it’s worth paying a little extra for quick dry fabrics. By wearing fast drying clothes, you can avoid damp smells after being caught in the rain. And you can also easily air dry hand washed shirts that you’ve cleaned in your hostel sink - no need to find a nearby laundromat!
10. Try No Shower Body Wipes
Can’t get to a shower? Then no rinse body wipes are your best friend. Just like face wipes or baby wipes, these wet towelettes can help you clean all the different parts of your body without the need of a bathroom. There are a number of travel wipes available on the market these days but if you can’t find them, standard baby wipes will get the job done.