What NOT To Do: Medical Misadventures


These mistakes travel bloggers make talk about mistakes made around language barriers and cultural misunderstandings. This is a four-part series in collaboration with fellow travel bloggers. Follow the links at the end to read about lodging disasters, language barriers and cultural misunderstandings, attention errors, and my biggest travel mistakes.

Scratchy Throat in Sydney

A story from: The Girl Goes

This travel mistake to avoid happened when I was traveling to Sydney by myself. This was when H1N1 was a big concern. My first international trip alone. I wasn’t sick but I had developed bit of a scratchy throat (probably from my seat mate who kept sneezing and coughing on me) so when they passed out health questionnaires, I noted that I didn’t feel 100%.

The next thing I know, I’m escorted from customs, a mask put on my face, loaded onto one of those inner-airport golf-cart-like vehicle with a flashing strobe light and an automatic horn that honked every few seconds (like a dump truck backing up) and carted across the entire airport to have my temperature taken.

If that wasn’t embarrassing enough, the airport nurse didn’t mask her annoyance at having to go through the motions with someone who obviously wasn’t sick. For the record, the visibly ill woman on the plane who say next to me was nowhere to be seen.

Mistakes while flying to avoid: amping up your sickness. This was mistakes travel bloggers make.

Who knew a scratchy throat could lead to such a conundrum?

Sea Sick at San Blas

A story from: My Adventures Across the World

This travel frustration occurred while I was traveling across Central America, I had heard that sailing across San Blas archipelago and into Colombia was one of the most fantastic things to do in Panama. I saw pictures of the beautiful atolls and had no doubt that I wanted to do it too. Pity that I had not considered the possibility of getting seasick while on the boat, which I sure did.

Minutes after leaving the bay of Portobelo and getting into the Atlantic Ocean, I started feeling queasy. That feeling soon turned into full blown nausea. All I could do was sit at the back, facing just one way, shivering despite the heat. I could not drink or eat anything, so I worried that I would get dehydrated. Any time I wanted to pee, I had to squat into the hole of the helm, asking everyone on the boat to face the other way so that I could pee. There was no way I could get inside and walk to the toilet, standing up for more than a minute or two trying to balance myself on the boat that was navigating the big swell of the Atlantic. Nausea got the best of me any time my travel companions brought out food (the smell made me feel worse) or sun lotion.

24 hours later, as soon as we arrived on the first island of the archipelago, I announced I would be getting off. There was no way I could endure any more of that, no matter how beautiful San Blas was meant to be. I got off the boat in the middle of the night, made it to shore only to face the angry chief of the island, who lectured me on the many articles of the Kuna Yala Constitution that I had violated. It was only when I cried to him, asking whether the Constitution didn’t suggest to help those in need, that he agreed to let me pitch a tent under a palm tree behind the air strip.

I thought that nothing worse could happen that day; but then it started raining. I don’t think I’ll try my luck again, there!

Getting sea sick is just one of many mistakes travel bloggers make that we wish we could avoid. It happens to the best of us. While you want to be looking out at the beautiful water, you're in the bathroom experiencing one of the biggest travel problems and travel frustrations.

If only I could have enjoyed the beautiful view!

Chocolate Fountain Fever

A story from: The Scenic Suitcase

This mistake to avoid while traveling may have never occurred to you. I knew better. But when you’re faced with a chocolate fountain situation, you’re going to look for any and all items to dip (because… obviously).

I was aware that eating fruit in countries where the water isn’t safe to drink is a “no no.”  But I couldn’t resist smothering delicious strawberries at the dessert buffet with gobs of chocolate.  Lulled into a false sense of security after spending a week in Cuba without incident, I made a pig of myself and then happily went to bed.

Fast forward to 11 p.m.  In a wild panic, I catapulted myself out of bed and into the bathroom.  Over. And Over. And over again, every ten minutes for the next nine hours.  It was a miserable night, and it cost me the last excursion on my tour (because spending the day on a hot bus with bumpy roads was not happening).

The lesson:  If you are in a country where it isn’t safe to drink the water, only eat fruit that you peel (such as oranges and bananas).  Also, avoid ice in your drinks (unless it comes from filtered water), and brush your teeth with bottled water.

This was a huge travel mistake to avoid. It's also a common travel mistake and mistake travel bloggers make. It's easy to forget about water quality when chocolate is in the picture. But don't let the chocolate fool you into this rookie travel mistake!

Who knew a chocolate fountain could betray you?

Water Festival Blues

A story from: This Travel Guide

This travel frustration happened when I visited Mandalay. As I got there, something that I’d eaten in Yangon decided to disagree with me.

I ended up getting violently ill.

I was there for an entire week, and never really got to see much more than the hotel room.

To make matters worse, this was all happening during the Thingyan water festival so, the few times I ventured across the street to get some medication, I had buckets of water poured all over me.

One of the biggest travel problems and travel frustrations is being sick on a trip. It's a huge bummer. Especially if you're at a water festival constantly being splashed in the face. It's not really a travel mistake to avoid, because you can't really avoid being sick. It just sort of happens.

No one loves getting splashed with water when you’re horribly sick!

For more travel mishaps from travel bloggers, check out Lodging Disasters, Language Barriers and Cultural Misunderstandings, Attention Errors, or My Personal Travel Mishaps.