Couch Health and Fitness

Health and Fitness at the Comfort of your home


Vacations are meant to be some of the most relaxing and happy moments in our lives. We spend time daydreaming about sunset walks on the beach or taking pictures on safari. Furthermore, going on vacations is actually good for your health. While a lot can go wrong on a trip, falling ill is a definite nightmare. Yet, very few people ever think of such ill fate, pardon the pun, as a possibility while on holiday. We prepare for a lot of eventualities while planning a trip. However, who plans for the unfortunate event of falling sick while traveling? Little to no precaution is taken to safeguard our health while vacationing. Now that we’ve got you thinking about that, here are 5 tips to stay healthy while vacationing that every Kenyan should know about.

  1. Stomach Ailments

From traveler’s diarrhea to heartburn, gas, and constipation stomach ailments come in many forms. Such ailments are more than just an inconvenience. They can pose a serious danger to one’s health and can be rather embarrassing, to be honest. One feels like the eyes of the entire world are watching them and keeping count of the number of washroom visits one has. Further still, problems with the digestive tract can leave one uncomfortably confined to a hotel room instead of being out and about exploring and having fun as one should on a vacation.

Stomach ailments seem to affect us suddenly and unexpectedly. However, there are a few steps one can take to keep them at bay. First thing’s first. Avoid street food. Street food is usually a popular attraction for tourists. It’s an affordable way to sample local delicacies and indulge in the culture. On the other hand, street food is more often than not prepared under questionable hygienic practices. A good majority of the food is cooked in an open-air setting usually by the side of the road where dust easily falls on the food. While this is not to discredit all street food vendors, the principle of caveat emptor – ‘may the buyer beware’ should apply.

Another noteworthy tip is to avoid buying already peeled food such as fruits. Buy the fruits and peel them yourself. At least that way one can ensure the fruits are properly cleaned and peeled with clean tools and hands.

Stick to bottled water. Drinking contaminated water can give one more than a stomach upset. Waterborne diseases such as cholera can always be lurking in contaminated water. Therefore, it is not recommended to drink water from running taps or unknown sources.

  1. Mosquitoes

Firstly, mosquitoes are simply annoying. The buzzing sound they make and the lumpy bite marks they leave behind are irritating, to say the least. In fact, a humorous African proverb goes a little something like this: If you think you are too small to make a difference, spend a night with a mosquito. Secondly, mosquitoes are known to spread dangerous diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, West Nile virus, and the Zika virus. Therefore, mosquitoes should be avoided or repelled at all costs. Chances are whatever your holiday destination you are likely to be in danger of getting bitten by a mosquito. This is because there are only five countries in the world that are completely mosquito-free; Antarctica, Iceland, Seychelles, French Polynesia, and New Caledonia.

To reduce the likelihood of getting a mosquito bite, you can ;

(i) Cover up with long sleeved shirts or tops and long pants.

Even in hot weather, there are loose cotton clothes that do a good job of covering one up without being uncomfortably hot.

(ii) Applying insect repellent.

Insect repellents come as either natural or chemical repellents. Chemical repellents are usually more effective due to a compound called DEET. All the same, natural repellents also serve the purpose. The trick is to reapply constantly to ensure you are always protected.

(iii) Pack mosquito coils with you.

Mosquito coils are spiral coils made of pyrethrum powder. They are lit on one end and burn throughout the night producing a mosquito repellent smoke. The coils are more effective when lit some time before turning the lights off to make sure that any mosquitoes in the room are evicted, so to speak.

(iv) Using mosquito nets.

While it may be an inconvenience to carry a mosquito net around on one’s travels but most hotels and guesthouses usually come equipped with the nets anyway.

  1. Dehydration

Dehydration probably doesn’t sound like much of a concern, right? Wrong! When out and about exploring or jumping from one exciting activity to another, it is easy to ignore the feeling of thirst. Before you know it, a whole day has passed without drinking water. While it is unlikely for one to experience the more extreme effects of dehydration it is easy to feel dizzy, have a dry mouth, feel tired or sleepy, have dry skin, and even have a headache all due to dehydration.

Thankfully, dehydration can easily be avoided by merely carrying a bottle or two of water and gulping down a few mouthfuls every so often. Alternatively, eating water-rich foods such as watermelons, strawberries, pineapples, and oranges should keep one hydrated.

  1. Shots and Vaccines

These apply more to international travelers. Certain diseases are prone to occur in some countries more than others. A disease that is virtually non-existent in one’s country of origin may be more widespread in a foreign country. The good news is a majority of diseases have a vaccine. For example, a trip to Dubai which is a popular destination among Kenyans requires one to have a Hepatitis A shot. Such measures are mostly precautionary but necessary nonetheless.

Travel medication should not end at vaccines. Medicine for minor conditions such as motion sickness and altitude sickness should be brought along if one is vulnerable to these conditions. Mountain hikers are particularly susceptible to altitude sickness while people going on a cruise may be victims of motion sickness. In fact, if one is mountain-climbing or going on a cruise for the first time such medication should not be an afterthought but a priority.

  1. Accidents

Accidents can be minor or major. Unfortunately, most of the time we have no power to foresee or prevent accidents. All the same, we should at least make sure that our own reckless actions do not result in accidents of any kind. Simple things like not drinking and driving apply regardless of whether one is on vacation or not. When engaging in extreme activities such as bungee jumping, rock-climbing or skydiving ensure you strictly adhere to the safety checklist. Keep a close eye on children while swimming either in a swimming pool or in the ocean. Speaking of kids swimming, here are 5 Fun Things to Do in Mombasa with Your Kids.

Do not leave your vehicle while on safari in a game park unless otherwise advised by a qualified guide. Also, avoid handling large sums of money in public as this may turn you into a target for robbers. Use a card or mobile money transfer services such as MPESA instead.

All said and done, the number one rule about vacationing is do not forget to have fun.


Stephen Mathenge is a Digital Marketing Consultant who runs Content Merch and is currently consulting and creating content for  Starluck travel. You can  find him on  Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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