Tom Rowland Podcast - How 2 Tuesday #2 - PRIMITIVE TRAVELERS SURVIVAL GUIDE
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Primitive Travelers Survival Guide
Some of the best adventures and often the best fishing and hunting are in primitive areas. Planning a trip and actually going to places where few go can be a once in a lifetime experience.
Through experience of his own and advice from friends who have learned the hard way, Tom Rowland outlines the 5 things that are usually the culprit to making this trip of a lifetime a rather unpleasant experience. Here is the good news: all 5 are mostly avoidable and with a few things in your kit bag, the rest can be handled in primitive environments.
Causes of illness/sickness on adventure trips
#1. Without question the top reason for feeling a little off to being completely laid up for days unable to fish, hunt or actually experience the adventure that brought you to this area is somehow ingesting bad water. If at all possible, drink ONLY bottled water and make sure that you are wiping the bottle and top of the bottle well before drinking. Most people realize that they shouldn't drink water from a river or even from the sink, however there are other ways that you could accidentally ingest enough water to make you sick. Wipe the top of beer cans, soda cans, bottled water before drinking. Do not get ice in drinks as this ice is made from the local water. Place a t-shirt over the sink in the bathroom to remind you not to brush your teeth with the water and only brush your teeth with the bottled water. Keep your mouth hermetically sealed in the shower and do not let any water get in. Be careful with coffee or avoid tea or coffee all together if made from local water.
#2 Sun Poisoning or bad sunburn- The second most common problem that travelers have is too much sun. You can't undo this one. For the first few days, be extremely careful in the sun. I am very comfortable in the Key West sun and know how to protect myself, but my first exposure to the sun in a place just a little closer to the Equator, Costa Rica, was surprising. The sun was definitely stronger and burned much faster. Imagine the difference between Ohio and Belize! For the first few days, stay covered up. Sunscreen is fine for some people, but I can’t stand the stuff. Most people don’t realize that sunscreen doesn’t work immediately. It takes an hour or so to take effect and it gets wiped or sweated off. If you are out in the sun until noon, then put sunscreen on, you have had 5-6 hours of straight sun on your skin. If you just stepped off the airplane from Ohio, this means horrible sunburn on the first day that will sap your energy for the rest of the trip or leave you with actual sun poisoning which will have you laid up in bed. Take the sunscreen into the bathroom with you in the morning and put it on before you leave the house. Be aware that you are going to need to reapply the sunscreen about 4 hours later to prevent burning. On top of your sunscreen, the best thing that you can do to protect yourself from the sun is to wear Buff headwear. This product covers your face and neck and will do a better job than sunscreen because it never gets wiped off. It takes effect immediately and will keep you from getting burned as long as you wear it. People who wear Buffs all day feel fine at the end of the day. People who get sunburned badly on day one often don’t even show up to fish on day four. Wear a hat, sunglasses, a Buff, long sleeve shirt, or Buff arm sleeves and long pants. Sun gloves are also a very wise investment.
#3. Food Poisoning - Less common but definitely frequent are food issues. I have traveled all over the world on fishing trips and I have had some amazing meals and some meals that I wisely declined and just went hungry. It may come as a surprise that every country in the world does not appreciate refrigeration as we do, but in some cultures it is not utilized the way it is in the USA. Fresh caught fish may sit out in the sun for hours with flies all over it before it is cleaned and then put on the table, that same fish may turn into fish salad for the next day’s lunch and sit unrefrigerated for hours again. This certainly does not happen everywhere, but if you ingest something like this, you are going to be laid up in bed for a couple of days. Usually, there will be an alternative. If possible and where allowed to travel with food, I always come prepared with some emergency food like bars and/or peanut butter and jelly. If you can travel with it, DO IT! If not try and get your driver to stop by a store and get a couple of loaves of bread and some peanut butter and jelly. I have lived on PB&J throughout the world. Be very careful with what you eat while on exotic trips. To date, I have not gotten sick on one of these trips while I have seen fellow travelers miss a day or two fishing and be in excruciating abdominal pain. You do not want this to be you. It is avoidable.
#4 Flu/Cold - I think it is uncommon to get a cold or flu when you reach your destination, but not uncommon at all to contract something while on the plane and traveling through busy airports on the way to your destination. Hand washing is the best way to avoid the flu or a cold. Wash your hands every chance you get and definitely before eating. Keep your fingers away from your face, out of your eyes, nose and mouth. If you have to wipe your eye, do it with a Kleenex, a shirt sleeve or anything but your fingers. Some travelers discuss this with their Dr and travel with a Zpack or other medicine just in case.
#5 Minor Injuries - In my experience, minor injuries can and do occur but they are only a problem if you don't have basic medical supplies. Without basic supplies, a small cut, fish spine, or blister can quickly get infected and become something very unpleasant. Most issues that I have seen are associated with the feet. People buy brand new wading boots for a trip and neglect to break them in even a little. This results in bad blisters on day 1 and they have 5 more days of heavy wading on already painful feet. If these blisters become infected, that can be a real issue. It is pretty easy to avoid this to begin with. Break your shoes in before the trip. Don't stop there though, carry a medical kit that has needles to pop blisters, alcohol wipes, moleskin, tape and other supplies to deal with this problem when it arrises. Take several pairs of extra socks and some sandals for around camp so you can allow your feet to dry out.
A medical kit should include foot care, iodine tablets, Steripen, lifestraw or other small filter that is PROVEN to work before this trip, band-aids, gauze, butterfly bandages, tape, Neosporin, Advil, Alcohol wipes, Electrolyte powders, Coffee powders, and diarrhea medicine. Also, don't forget to include sunburn cream, aloe and some 100% sun block like zinc oxide.
So, stay out of the sun, eat safe food and drink tons of water… but make sure it’s good water!
See you there!
Capt. Tom Rowland
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