Travel Troubles

Monday, June 30, 2008

What do you remember best from your last vacation: the tropical beaches, the historical ruins, the exotic wildlife? Or are your memories of the food poisoning you got from that first dinner, or of spending the night in a strange emergency room after spraining your ankle? Nothing can ruin a vacation faster than getting sick or injured. Here's a look at the six most terrifying travel risks—and how you can prevent them.

Whatever your vacation plans this summer, watch out for these three frightening risks.

Diarrhea. Sometimes termed turista or Montezuma’s revenge, it’s common for travelers visiting foreign countries to feel ill after drinking the local tap water or eating food prepared with poorly sanitized water. As many as half of all international vacationers will develop diarrhea (usually during the first week of their trips), The best way to prevent it is to drink only bottled water or boil local tap water. Also beware of fruits and vegetables that may have been rinsed with local water.

Blood clots. Sitting still for long flights, like those to Europe, Asia, and Australia, can cause a dangerous condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). It develops when a blood clot forms in the leg or thigh and, in very serious cases, travels through the bloodstream, possibly getting stuck in the brain, lungs, or heart, People with high blood pressure and diabetes are at greatest risk. One way to help prevent it is by walking, even very short distances up and down the plane aisles, before and during the flight.

Accidents. The State Department estimates that more than 200 American citizens die in traffic accidents abroad each year. Remember, other counties have different safety laws than the United States. For example, cars may lack seatbelts, or boats may not be required to keep life jackets on board. If you’re driving a rented vehicle, research the local rules before you get there: Which side of the road do they drive on? Who has the right-of-way at traffic circles? Is it customary to honk when going around a sharp bend?


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