Gilded Serpent presents...
Secrets of a Road Warrior, Part 1:
to Healthy Travel
positive feedback on
last year's travel checklist, and also some requests for more
detail. This series of articles provides a more detailed discussion
on how to stay healthy when traveling, and how to deal with common
Many of us
dancers love to travel. We take dream vacations to Egypt or Turkey, vend at festivals, or participate
in week-long dance intensive courses
and retreats. However, some of us don't have much experience
with travel, particularly international travel, and we might not
know about the health risks that travel can pose. In this
series of articles, I'll offer you insight from my own years of
experience traveling both for my day job in the technology industry
and also from my perspective as a "dance tourist."
you try any of the ideas I've suggested in this article, please
discuss them with your own doctor! If you are pregnant or breast-feeding
a baby, you need to consider how your actions might affect your
baby's health. If you take prescription drugs for any reason,
you'll want to make sure your cold remedies don't conflict with
the behavior of those drugs. If you have allergies or immune system
issues, you'll want to be careful to avoid any actions that could
cause you further difficulty. I am not a health care
professional, and I don't claim to know how my techniques for
travel comfort might apply to your personal health
Your Health Insurance
Before you leave home, research what kind
of coverage your health insurance offers while you are away from
home. If you have a medical emergency, will it cover care while
there and medical transport home? Take along your health insurance
card and information on how to invoke emergency coverage while
If you don't
normally have health insurance, consider buying special trip insurance
to cover you just for this one trip. Imagine the hospital or hotel
room expenses you could incur if you are too sick to board an
airplane to travel home. Health emergencies are always difficult
to handle, but they're even worse when you're away from home.
If you are planning
to travel as part of an organized tour, pick a tour operator with
sufficient experience in the destination city to know how to deal
with health emergencies. If you are planning to travel on your
own, without being part of a formal tour, research in advance
which hospitals in the destination city have the best reputation
and take that information along.
happen anywhere. Or, you might have had a condition at home
that you didn't know about, which may make itself
known while you are traveling. Bāraka's
dance career came to an end when she was struck by a bus in a
parking lot in France. I have been on trips with people who sprained an ankle, broke a bone in the foot, and
suffered an aneurysm in the brain, all in countries foreign to
their own. It's better to be prepared by having insurance, knowing
how to use it, and knowing where to seek care.
When traveling internationally, vaccinations
are recommended for some destinations and not others. Check
the U.S. Department of State web site to find out what it recommends
for the country you will be visiting, and also ask your doctor.
If it has been 10 years or more since your last tetanus shot,
it may be advisable to get a booster regardless of your destination.
along all prescription items that you might normally use at home,
such as blood pressure medication, insulin, birth control pills,
allergy or asthma medication, etc. Don't forget to include items
that you use only occasionally, such as ointment for dermatitis
outbreaks, athlete's foot, acid indigestion, or other periodic
If you are traveling
internationally, your prescription medications may be controlled
substances in your destination country. Therefore, it's important
to take along proof that you have them in your possession legally.
This could include the original bottle provided by your pharmacist,
and/or a printed copy of the prescription from your doctor.
If you are sensitive to asthma or other
breathing issues, take appropriate treatments along on the trip.
Your destination may have air quality very different from your
In some developing
countries, anti-pollution laws are much less stringent than they
are in places like the U.S. where environmental activism has been
strong for several decades. Such countries may allow imports of
older vehicles which were manufactured before exhaust systems
with emission controls were mandated in their original countries.
They may not have any laws requiring the use of unleaded
the United States, one state may have different pollution-control
laws than another. For example, in California cars are required to pass smog checks
every 2 years as a condition for renewing their registrations,
whereas other states do not have a similar requirement.
have different public opinions and laws regarding tobacco. In
California, it is illegal to smoke inside restaurants,
office buildings, and other public places, but elsewhere smoking
may be very common.
places like Cairo experience a large amount of grit
in the air due to the fact that the desert is very near, and winds
carry the sand throughout the neighboring city.
All of these
factors mean that people with sensitive lungs need to ensure they
pack any appropriate medications, inhalers, masks, or other gear.
If you frequently suffer from motion
sickness, you may want to take along your favorite preventions.
People often forget that motion sickness can attack when you are
sitting on a tour bus for sightseeing or enjoying a cruise, and
it's more likely to hit you when you're tired than when you're
fully rested. If you take a dance workshop in a topic such as
veil that involves spinning,
that provides another environment where motion sickness
is likely to strike.
You can pre-empt
this issue by researching motion sickness before leaving home.
Some people find that deep breathing, looking at the horizon,
or opening a window and breathing fresh air, can ease the discomfort.
Take the time to educate yourself on non-drug remedies that may
be helpful. Avoid drinking alcohol before boarding the tour
bus or cruise boat.
I like to use
ginger to prevent motion sickness - either in a tea or in candied
form from the spice aisle of a grocery store. Pills of powdered
ginger also exist.
prefer acupressure wristbands or pills such as Dramamine. The
acupressure wristbands never helped me, but you're free to make
your own decisions. I'm wary of the drugs used in Dramamine, but
I know some people like to use it.
& Joint Pain and Injuries
you will be taking intensive dance classes at your destination
or even if you just expect to spend a lot of time walking on your
sightseeing excursions, don't forget to plan ahead to avoid muscle
and joint pain.
you feel fatigued can cause injury. Something as simple as stepping
off a curb can lead to a painful sprain or even a broken bone
in the foot or ankle if you are worn out. Take care to get plenty
of rest throughout your trip, and pay special attention to where
you put your feet when walking over uneven surfaces, stepping
off curbs, or using staircases when fatigued.
If you're not
used to doing much exercise all at once, multi-hour workshops
can stress your knees and ankles. Two weeks before you go, begin
taking glucosamine chondroitin tablets twice per day to fortify
your joints for the expected activity.
legwarmers will keep your muscles from cramping when you initially
begin to exercise and reduce your risk of injury. Warm up
on your own before the workshop actually begins, because many
instructors don't include warm-ups as part of their class and
lack of a warm-up can lead to injury. The latest advice from exercise
physiologists is to warm up through a minimum of 5 minutes of
gentle aerobic exercise such as walking briskly. Do not use stretches
to warm up.
If you need
braces or wraps to support a weak joint, use them. Constantly
pay attention to your posture. Wear socks or shoes on your feet
to avoid injury from beads falling off other people's hip scarves.
Don't exercise when fatigued!
In the event
you do injure yourself while exercising, remember the acronym
RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.
Don't hesitate to seek medical assistance if you have any reason
to believe a bone may be broken! Avoid putting any weight
on the injured limb for the first 24 hours (or longer) after injuring.
Apply ice packs over a towel intermittently to minimize swelling,
but be careful to avoid frostbite on your skin. Continue the intermittent
ice routine until you're absolutely certain the risk of swelling
has passed - this should be at least 24 hours, possibly longer.
Wrap an elastic bandage around the injured area and elevate it
to prevent the accumulation of excess fluid known as edema.
During this initial period, avoid hot showers, heat rubs such
as Ben Gay, hot packs, drinking alcohol, or taking aspirin.
Aspirin prevents blood from clotting and can make accumulation
of fluid worse.
are stiff from being used more than they are accustomed to will
be grateful for hot showers, massage, heating pads, or having
a hot towel placed over them. If you normally use a product
like Ben Gay to soothe stiff muscles, you may want to pack some
for the trip.
Think about pain remedies that you may need
for your particular health issues such as migraines, menstrual
cramps, or other conditions. Take these items with you.
It can be difficult to find a drugstore near your hotel or retreat
center when traveling, and if you are going to a different country,
obtaining the brand names you are accustomed to using at home
can be difficult.
your thinking to drugs. For example, an eye shade or a cool, moist
washcloth laid over your forehead and eyes can
help cope with migraine, and a handheld massage device may help
with some kinds of muscle pain.
Your Packing Checklist
the items your doctor and you agree could be helpful in your situation,
and ignore the rest. Don't forget to get any recommended vaccinations
before leaving home.
is the handy list we posted last year-
Travel Health Checklist by Shira
is Part 1 of a series of articles on travel health issues for
Future articles will cover:
a comment? Send us a
- Coping with Jet Lag
- How to Avoid Catching a Cold While Traveling
- Traveler's Diarrhea
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
more from Shira-
of Shahrazad: Face to Face Cultural
Encounters Through the Expressive Arts
of Middle Eastern Women
On March 5, 2005, a unique conference in Iowa honored
International Women’s Month.
Here is a packing checklist that may help you anticipate your
When Comparing &
Often, people base their negative judgments of other
styles on student-quality performances.
Rakkasah West Festival
2005 Photos- Saturday Page 1 photos by GS Staff and Friends
The Rhythm and Reason Series
2- Special Experiences by
Mary Ellen Donald
The audience of mainly flamenco aficionados gave our
Arabic Suite a clamorous response. This bringing together
of bellydance and flamenco had begun as a flash of imagination
in Cruz' mind.
Atef Farag: A Life in Dance Interview
by Debbie Lammam
Egyptian dance does tolerate a lot of sexual innuendo that is
not present in my work.