Not so long ago when I went to get my Twinrix vaccination, I received from the pharmacy what I call The Red Folder of Fear. In it was information about all the devastating things that could happen to me if I leave my house.
For your benefit, dear reader, I’ll share some of these with you here. You can find more information to keep you at home at or, at the very least, keep you afraid at Health Canada’s website.
After all, travelling isn’t about enjoying the world. It’s about enjoying safety precautions.
“Too much sun can be harmful, so be careful!”
Yes. Here’s a newsflash: Sun can cause sunburn and sun can cause us to age, just like life does.
“If you are in the sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.,[You daredevil!] wear long pants, long sleeves and a hat with a wide brim.”
Safe and attractive. Don’t go out after dark, either, because that’s unsafe for a whole heap of other reasons. That gives you two or three hours in the morning, and another two hours before supper to experience the paradise you flew five hours to see and the vacation you spent a month’s wages on.
What’s my recommendation for avoiding the afternoon sun? Find a shady bar or a lawn chair under an umbrella and keep hydrating with whatever they’re serving. Prefer not to sample the local beverages? Go for a massage. That’s pretty safe, and it will get you out of that ridiculous hat and those long pants.
For the sake of all that’s good in the world, even if that dangerous sun is shining, leave your hotel room.
Here’s a good one:
“Wash your own salad greens in a solution of six drops of chlorine bleach in one litre of safe water. Soak for thirty minutes, and then rinse with safe water.”
Is the water safe? How can you know for sure? This whole water scenario sounds risky to me.
“Lori, are you coming downstairs for a margarita?”
“No, you go ahead. I’ve got lettuce soaking in the bathroom sink and I still need to peel some vegetables. Also, I’m frightened of the sunshine.”
Yes, peeling your own vegetables (and nuts?) is also advised in The Red Folder of Fear:
“Peel your own fruits, vegetables, and nuts.”
It’s been a long time since I’ve peeled a nut. It might be fun to try that again.
“Beware of local buses. They are often overcrowded, poorly maintained, and in a hurry.”
Suggested interpretation: If it’s good enough for the locals, it’s not good enough for me.
Local buses can be your ticket to affordable adventure. Seriously. Local public transportation can take you places you’d never think to visit on your own. Riding the bus is a great way to tour and a good chance to rub elbows with the locals.
Sure, don’t lick your fingers after clutching the bar on the back of the seat in front of you. But why would you do that? You’re a world-travelling bus rider. You’ll wash your hands and then lick your fingers.
Why were you clutching the seat bar or the one above your head? Because, often, these buses are in a hurry, so hold on tight and enjoy the scenery!
Don’t leave home without it.
The Red Folder of Fear lists twenty-four handy items you could pack in your travel medical kit depending on a list of ten factors I’m not going to mention. I suggest antihistamines, a pain reliever, bandages, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, something for nausea, and sunscreen.
Within its comprehensive list of twenty-four items, The Red Folder of Fear suggests bringing:
- A thermometer.
- A first aid book.
- Shampoo for treating lice and scabies.
- Disposable gloves.
- A Swiss Army Knife. (I love this one and so do the folks at airport security!)
By the end of this list, I’m wondering if I’m becoming less of a tourist and more of a serial killer.
I get the impression from The Red Folder of Fear that the only safe place to vacation is on my big red couch at home. If I stay there, I decrease my chances of illness and injury, of trauma during and following a wild bus ride, and of having any fun.
While that folder increases my chances of staying alive, it greatly reduces the chance that I’ll get to experience life at all.