For many anglers, the prospect of a destination fishing trip brings forth feelings of excitement, anticipation, and maybe a bit of anxiety. Heading into the unknown—to a place you’ve never traveled before—brings with it unique challenges. From visa applications and travel logistics to pre-travel immunizations and gear prep, there are many factors that go into executing a successful fishing trip. But perhaps most important is staying healthy enough that you can enjoy those bent rods once you get to the fishing locale of your dreams.
I’ve made a career out of traveling to odd corners of the globe to fish, photograph, and write. I spend a good chunk of each year outside the U.S., so remaining healthy while on the road is key so I can fish and work while on location and also be able to head into the next job full steam ahead. Over 15 years I’ve gathered tips and tricks that help keep me healthy and working while fishing around the world.
Of course, all the preparation possible can’t guarantee you won’t get sick or hurt on location. I’ve spent many trips over the years dealing with illnesses or injuries acquired while on the job, and thankfully only have a couple of good stories about weird times in foreign medical clinics. While most well-run fishing lodges will have medical aid on site or be prepared to get clients somewhere for treatment, I’m often working away from lodges on expedition-type jobs where we’re our own first responders. When possible it’s much, much easier to prevent problems before they happen, and that starts with taking care of yourself.
I’m a fan of doing what I can to stay healthy while traveling (and in general). It starts with a good fitness base to ensure I’m fit enough to hike, swim, camp, cast, and do everything else a destination might require. I also take vitamin packs for each day of travel to stay on my routine and contribute what I can against coming down with a cold or flu (zinc and vitamin C are in my regimen).
Have a Plan
Travel with a strategy to stay well. I’ve found proper hydration makes a noticeable difference, even in cold weather. Drinking a lot of water—even while sitting on the plane during on travel days—will help you feel much better and I’m a fan of using an electrolyte solution each day such as LMNT. Limiting alcohol (you don’t have to tee-total, but know your limits) can also give your immune system a boost and help fight against any seasickness or motion sickness while fishing or traveling. Wear long sleeves and/or long pants and plenty of sun protection if you’re in a sun-bright climate; a bad sunburn is a near-guarantee you’re going to feel pretty awful the next few days.
Be Smart on What You Imbibe
Keep an eye on what you eat and drink while traveling. In many places around the world bottled water in lieu of tap water is a safe bet. (Quick tip: Ensure the cap is actually sealed, as vendors will sometimes refill bottles with tap water then try to pass it off as “bottled water.”) Ensure meat is cooked fully, and sticking to fruits and vegetables you can peel will help limit food poisoning bouts. Watch what the locals eat and drink; they typically are a good gauge on what’s safe to consume, but also bear in mind they might have different food tolerances than you do.
Fight the Good Fight Against Bugs
Many fishing destinations around the world also support healthy insect populations, and it’s a good idea to avoid bug bites and the nasty illnesses that can come with them. As someone who’s dealt with their fair share of insect-born tropical illnesses, I recommend avoiding them at all costs. Pack along a heavy-duty bug spray without DEET (DEET will eat through your line, harm cameras and phones, and can be toxic in very high doses over an extended period of time). Consider treating your clothing with a Permethrin spray if you’re heading into a bad bug area. I also pack along an insect-treated sleep sack (similar to a sleeping bag liner) which gives good bite protection both when camping and in sketchy hotel rooms.
Travel Medical Kit Basics
Diving into a full travel medical kit is a large enough topic to warrant its own article. I carry an expedition-grade kit with me on every trip and have training on how to use it well. Even if you never leave the U.S., consider taking a field first-aid course; it’s good to know. Besides the basics, I do also carry a mini-kit with meds I may need yet would be unable to purchase in many remote places of the world. Among them are an allergy medication, cold and flu meds, Imodium, a travel antibiotic, and Ibuprofen. Keep everything clearly labeled so customs isn’t concerned. When you’re sick with a bad flu in the middle of nowhere, that Dayquil will never seem better. (I speak from experience, as someone who once trader a baseball cap and $10 US for the only pack of Dayquil in the area while on a photo shoot in a third-world country.)
You’ve saved, planned, and taken the time to make this trip a lifetime memory, so why not help yourself feel your best as you travel so you can fish, play, and just soak up the destination? Enjoy your trip!