This list of do’s and don’ts may look onerous but precaution is everything to travel safely and not get sick.
Jo is frequently asked what vaccinations are required when travelling to distant parts of the world, as well as other health issues.
While she answers these in good faith, the responsibility rests on the shoulders of the traveller. Requirements can change rapidly. For example one year it changed suddenly: those returning from Argentina to South Africa required the Yellow Fever vaccination. Otherwise they insisted your relative brought your card to the airport or be injected by the health authorities at your cost.
Everyone returning from South America does require the Yellow Fever vaccination.
You should have had your regular check up of dentist, etc and don’t leave it until the last minute in case of something needing attention. Teeth are known to ache unexpectedly in icy conditions and old fillings to drop out. Jo visited a dentist in Samarkand, she could not have wished for a worse experience in a 007 movie.
Be mindful of when anti malaria pills should be taken. Consult the health professional for what kind is best suited to you.
Always travel with your prescription medicine and a script in case a customs official wants to know, or if you should lose your medicine. Always carry your medicine in hand luggage.
Take any pills, cough lozenges, ointments including basic first aid and disinfectant with you, do not rely on even having to buy toothpaste at your destination. You may delay other passengers if travelling in a group.
Anti-diarrhoea pills, Jo does recommend Pectrolyte far above other remedies. That advice came from a doctor.
Anti flu or cold remedies. Both the above problems are almost a given when eating strange food or in amongst crowds in airports or on planes.
Anti mosquito precautions: wear long sleeved garments, take ointment for bites and if camping or staying in substandard hotels a mosi net is advisable.
Do not approach strange pet animals or wild animals in case of bites or worse.
Be careful where you swim in pools, jacuzzis, or the sea, both for infections from the water as well as shark attacks or even standing on a sea urchin/stung by a jelly fish as well as strong currents both in rivers and in the ocean.
If on a ship – always one keep one hand for the ship, watch what you wear on your feet and don’t slip if the sea is rough. On no account go on deck if staff have forbidden it because of rough seas or ice on the deck. There have been broken bones at sea in Antarctica!
Seasick/Airsick Pills: an expedition ship will provide these at a cost, but rather have your own remedies with you. Jo always takes her seabands with her, worn round both wrists for the first few days at sea. Try to eat small meals until you find your sea-legs and go on deck for fresh air, look at the horizon not down into the water.
Always take spare batteries for a hearing aid, if applicable. One lady’s hearing aid failed her and she never heard announcements to meet up with her group in Frankfurt Airport. She phoned Jo in tears late one Friday evening thinking she’d been abandoned.
Always take a spare pair of prescription glasses, that includes dark glasses.
Take your recharger with you and appropriate adapters for any battery related items.
Need we list STD’s can be caught from just about anyone if you indulge in new sexual relations. Take every precaution!
Bedbugs are prevalent if staying in dodgy establishments.
Big tour companies and Expedition cruises give a long list of precautions to take.
Unless you intend eating from market stalls or backpacking you should not need all the Anti hepatitis injections etc but it’s up to the individual.
On the flight: walk around regularly, exercise in your seat, wiggling your toes etc – there are usually some are suggested in the in flight magazine. On arrival also try to walk around your hotel or get fresh air. Drink plenty of liquids, not necessarily alcohol.
Be mindful of time changes with regards to regulating your chronic medication, especially if diabetic.
- Drink bottled water in most countries mentioned on this website.
- Be careful when showering or washing teeth not to swallow tap water
- Weird drinks you may wish to try may be suspect or those with lots of water content, like beer, may also make you sick, or hungover. Be careful!
- Don’t forget ice cubes and salads unless consumed in a respectable venues, can be suspect
Contact your GP or Travel Clinic before departure – expect to pay for a consultation – not free advice.
If you are in any way sick on your return contact your doctor immediately. Those living overseas have often thought they had a cold when it was cerebral malaria.
As you will see on the webiste Jo Meintjes promotes some fairly out of the way places. Most cruises require that you complete a health form with past medical history and current medication. Any age can travel with Jo having sent clients aged from 10 to 90 years old provided you are fit and have the zest to explore.
We suggest you consult Jo to take out further insurance besides that offered for credit card payment for your flights. She is a broker for all the major insurance companies in South Africa which are valid for South African residents and those visiting South Africa. In most of the overseas brochures they will suggest their own insurance but, in almost all cases, it will not be valid unless you are a resident of that country.
For visitors to South Africa she can only issue policies valid from the time of arrival to time of departure from South Africa.
You are also asked to sign an indemnity form with Jo Meintjes Travel that she acts only as an agent for the various tour operators and airlines and all other modes of transport.
Pack as light as possible, if you can manage with hand luggage, you are a genius, and you’ll be away from the airport before the rest have got to the luggage carousel.
Regulations for the size of bags both checked-in and hand luggage is always changing. Check before you travel.
Always secure your bag with lock and strap if possible. Vacuum wrapping is not always the answer for determined thieves. Be careful you have secured the zip on a bag so that it can’t be slit open and then rezipped so no-one knows it’s been pilfered.
Mark your bag with a label on the outside (not a fancy one someone might like) as well as inside should your bag end up in the Lost Luggage department.
Try not to use the outside pockets on suitcases, if you must, secure them with a tag or padlock.
Take spare keys with you. Some countries like USA require you use standard padlocks so they can inspect your bags.
If a bag is damaged you will need to report it to the airline, or police, immediately. Not always easy if it’s not immediately apparent you have lost something.
Do not take anything valuable that cannot easily be replaced. By this Jo means jewellery or any other item of clothing. You may be giving a family heirloom to a relative when you land or have your only copy of a manuscript with you. Don’t!!
These days you can entrust things to courier services. If packing breakables, like a trusty bottle of whisky use plenty of bubble wrap and plastic bags which can be sealed! Don’t blame anyone if that bottle of shampoo leaks! Don’t forget the changes in atmospheric pressure in altitude both on flights or when travelling in/out of mountainous areas.
Certainly in most countries on this website you don’t want to appear ostentatious with jewellery, even fancy watches, on you in poor countries or obvious sling bags over your shoulder, the bottom of which can easily be slit open. Do not put your wallet in your back pocket. Don’t leave your towel, watch, etc on a patch of sand on the Copacabana beach and wander off for a swim. It won’t be there on your return.
In countries with currency that resembles tissue paper do not wave vast wads of it about. Take what you will spend that day with you. The same goes for hard currency such as Euros and Dollars. Jo has known a lady in a crowded shop be relieved of a $100 note when waving her hand in the air to try and buy something.
Always travel with smaller denominations of your chosen hard currency. The life of Travellers cheques is now over. Again passengers have been known to hold up a whole group because their ‘long lost’ cheques need cashing in some remote corner of the world. Do not expect credit cards to be valid everywhere, nor the new Cash Cards which are pre-loaded before departure at a reasonable exchange rate.
Cash is always the best. Use your hotel safe or that of the purser if aboard ship for surplus amounts.
Customs Dept: Be careful of the amount of souvenirs you return with. South Africa has strict regulations for liquor and cost of purchases.
Currency forms: many overseas countries require the amount of currency brought in to be noted. This form must often be produced when exiting the country.
Do not lose currency forms, detachable entry forms, allowing for quick departure, or boarding passes from the time you are handed them at check in to the time you board the plane. Take a photocopy of your passport with you.
Do not pack any contraband items when travelling in any direction, e.g. meat, fruit, shells from the seaside, plant material, whether seeds or the actual plant etc. Do not on any account look after anyone else’s luggage or be persuaded to take a present for anyone unless for a good friend with you overseas. You should still inspect it first.
You are searched when entering the Galapagos Islands for example so it does not just happen on international flights.
Be aware of the liquid requirements including toothpaste, allowed in hand luggage. They must be in a separate ziplock plastic bag for easy identity. Jo & Denise never realised even sewing kit is forbidden in hand luggage recently when wanting to sew on a button while waiting for a plane!
Check before buying the sealed duty free liquids if catching more than one plane on your return journey. The next airline is entitled to confiscate it.
There is a degree of efficiency required of every traveller, especially in a group or you owe it to your partner if travelling as a pair; to know where your valuable items are, and not stash away some currency in a pocket and then accuse the hotel staff of theft etc. One lady in Japan recently had to miss a full day’s excursion while she searched for her passport. She’d initially hidden it under the mattress which of course the staff removed and put it elsewhere in her room. She was furious with them but they were doing their job to change the linen! Her bedroom looked like a bombsite once she’d turfed everything upside down.
KEEP COOL AND CALM AND PATIENT. It is sometimes enough to make you tear your hair out should the procedures at airports both on departure and arrival be time consuming and/or irritating to the point of invading your personal privacy.
You chose to go on holiday or business and officials have everything on their side.
Please be aware that often they know a few words of your language and can be even more objectionable should they understand what you say or your body language. Jo has once been mortified when a fellow traveller passed personal remarks about someone’s clothing or the way they walked in a public place. There’s plenty of time to exchange remarks in private at a later date.
When at your destination it is wise, if not often a legal requirement, to have some I.D. on you when wandering around town. And you should have a card from the hotel in case of getting lost. Especially when travelling in a city with different hieroglyphics to our own, e.g. Japan or China. Even in Japan, Denise & Jo found the locals very helpful if they were lost. Sign language is everything.
And if you have booked through Jo Meintjes, Jo has always been at the other end of a phone whatever time of day or night and stood by stranded travellers forwarding them funds or acting as guarantor if your ticket, money etc have been stolen.
You are at your most vulnerable on check out day from your hotel, en route to flying home that evening. Preferably return to the hotel after last minute sightseeing or shopping to pick up your belongings before taking a transfer to the airport.
Last but not Least, take out TRAVEL INSURANCE with Jo Meintjes Travel.
You should carefully scrutinize the small print in any of the voyages or tours undertaken. Generally for cruises you need to put down a 25% deposit once the cabin is confirmed. Then make final payment 4 months before departure. Even if you pay late you are liable for the outstanding balance. Any alterations to your booking confirmation may attract a fee by the overseas operator. Therefore we highly recommend you take out adequate cancellation insurance, if not immediately upon booking, by the time the balance is due.
For other tours Jo Meintjes Travel usually requires a 10% deposit and balance 6 weeks before departure. You will be advised when making your reservation as to these requirements.