Staying Healthy in Underdeveloped Countries

If you’re traveling to an underdeveloped country, how to you stay healthy on your trip? Here’s what you need to plan for on your trip.

19 November 2010
Staying Healthy in Underdeveloped Countries

Many underdeveloped countries have become popular travel destinations, because of their lower costs. Travelers from affluent countries can take advantage of the cheap accommodations available in underdeveloped countries to have an extended vacation. They can also learn about cultures that are very different from their own, and experience life in places that are not industrialized. While travel in underdeveloped countries can be exciting and rewarding, travelers need to be extra cautious if they want to stay healthy throughout their vacations.

Don’t expect modern amenities to be available

Many underdeveloped countries do not have modern amenities that are commonly found in industrialized countries, and they do not have high standards of hygiene. Some of the budget accommodations in these countries may not be clean and comfortable, and travelers from affluent countries may have a difficult time getting used to the poorer living conditions. Secondly, the foods that are served may be prepared with ingredients that are not fresh or properly washed, and they may be cooked in unhygienic kitchens. Some of the drinks that are sold on the streets or in small restaurants are also made with water that is not safe for consumption. Consumption of unhygienic food and drinks may result in health problems, such as diarrhea and food poisoning. Additionally, some underdeveloped countries have high incidence of diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, and travelers to these countries will be exposed to greater risks of these illnesses. These illnesses can be easily treated in developed countries, but hospitals in underdeveloped countries may not have the resources to provide effective treatment.

Do your research beforehand

Travelers who are going to underdeveloped countries have to take certain measures before and during their vacations to ensure they can remain healthy throughout their vacations. Before they set off for their vacations, it is important that they do some research about the countries that they are visiting. They should find out about the diseases that are common in those countries and the things that they need to do to avoid infection. If they are planning to stay in budget accommodations, it is advisable that they bring their own blankets, because the blankets in some accommodations in underdeveloped countries are not clean. Travelers should also bring a medical kit that include items such as water disinfectant tablets, insect repellent, diarrhea tablets, anti-itch cream, anti-fungal cream, and moistened disposable towels.

Pay careful attention to foods and drinks on your trip

While they are vacationing in underdeveloped countries, travelers should pay special attention to the food and drinks they consume. It is not uncommon for travelers in underdeveloped countries to get food poisoning, because they consume food that is raw or improperly cook. The best thing to do is to eat meat, fish, vegetables, and rice that are hot and thoroughly cooked, because harmful pathogens that are found in food are sensitive to heat. Before eating any food, travelers should check to make sure that all items are well cooked in the center. Fresh baked goods are also recommended, especially those that do not have fillings. Foods that travelers should avoid include dairy products, raw vegetables and fruits that are not properly washed, raw or improperly cooked meat and fish, foods that are sold by street vendors, buffet foods, and cold meat platters.

The best way to ensure that water is safe for consumption is to boil it. Travelers should boil any water that seems to be unsafe for drinking, and they should keep the boiled water covered for several minutes before they drink it. If it is not possible to boil water, they can use chlorine bleach and iodine to make their water safer for consumption. Alternatively, they can drink hot beverages or bottled and canned beverages. It is advisable that they use a straw when they are drinking from a glass, bottle, or can. Travelers should try to avoid beverages such as dairy products and drinks with ice cubes that are made with tap water.


While taking necessary precautions can lower the risk of illnesses, it does not ensure that travelers will not fall ill during their vacations. If they become seriously ill, they may have to stay in a hospital to receive treatment. The good hospitals in underdeveloped countries can be expensive, and travelers may have to pay a substantial amount of money to get the treatment they need. One way to prevent financial losses that result from illnesses is to purchase a travel insurance policy. Those who have travel insurance will not only receive medical coverage; they will also get reimbursement for losses that are incurred because of medical evacuation, cancellation and curtailment of travel, and loss of personal belongings and luggage.

Damian Tysdal

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.