Healthy Tips for Safe Travels

A healthy trip begins with a well-packed suitcase. Packing some essentials in a practical piece of luggage can help you arrive at your destination prepared and help prevent inconvenience and discomfort during your stay.

A few items that every traveler should tote include a full supply of current prescription medication and basic over-the-counter medication such as pain relievers, antihistamines and anti-diarrheals. Be sure to pack regular medication in a bag that is accessible during travel. Other essential travel accessories include an extra pair of contacts or glasses, a jacket (preferably rain resistant), comfortable walking shoes and other necessary exercise equipment.

To avoid luggage-induced muscle strain, use a luggage cart or luggage with wheels and carry the remaining items in a shoulder bag or backpack, alternating shoulders every so often.

Pickpockets are unfortunately in many cities of the day. In addition, these professional thieves have lots of tricks up their pocket, to enrich themselves at your property. Money belt, of which there are tens of models would be as a solution. Some people go so far as to small secret pockets in the pants (!) Or jacket to sew or for just in case extra to hide cash in the hotel room.

Traveling Right

Traveling is not always glamorous. Sitting for long periods can hamper digestion, circulation and flexibility, and dry conditions inside a vehicle may result in dehydration. However, while you can’t always change your mode of travel, you can take steps to increase your comfort level as a passenger. Whether you are traveling in the air or on the ground, the following tips may help you better enjoy your trek:

  • On The Plane
  • Get a good night’s sleep before you leave.
  • Wear comfortable, nonrestrictive clothing.
  • Drink plenty of nonalcoholic, caffeine-free fluids, such as water and fruit juice.
  • If you are driving, stop every two hours or so to stretch and walk.
  • Limit your alcohol intake – high altitudes increase alcohol’s effect.
  • Walk around the cabin once an hour (if it is safe to do so) to loosen up muscles and increase blood flow.
  • In your seat, stretch your arms and legs, rotate your head, roll your shoulders and flex your hands and feet.
  • Enhance your seat posture by resting feet on a bag or briefcase on the floor and putting a pillow between the small of your back and the seat.
  • Avoid painful ear blockage – due to fast changes in altitude – by swallowing, which helps equalize pressure in ears. To help encourage swallowing, chew sugar-free gum or drink water. If you have a cold or suffer from allergies, you may want to try a preflight nasal decongestant or nasal spray.

15 Most Frequently Asked Questions by Travelers to Victoria Falls

1. Is it safe to visit Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe?
Zimbabwe as a whole has received a great deal of bad press in recent years due to its political instability. Therefore the question “Is It Safe” to visit is well justified. Victoria Falls has however always been its own entity and should be viewed separately from the rest of Zimbabwe with regards to crime and safety.

To understand this clearly you need to be aware of the tribal structure of the local people of Zimbabwe. Supporters of Robert Mugabe are the Mashona people from the Mashonaland Province. The Victoria Falls region is in the Matabeleland Province and is the stronghold of the Matebele people, their dominance here is so strong that Mashona supporters don’t dare venture here. For this reason Victoria Falls has been free from the Political unrest that the rest of Zimbabwe has been subjected to.

As I write this I would confidently state that Victoria Falls is a perfectly safe tourist destination. Reviews on all the travel forums will endorse this.

Petty crime does exist as with anywhere in the world but this is a tourist town and the people know that their livelihood depends on visitors coming in. On the whole they will not do anything to jeopardize this. Be aware and be sensible as you would traveling to any destination worldwide.

Recently the United States removed travel warnings to all its citizens wanting to travel to Zimbabwe showing their confidence in Zimbabwe’s recovery. Other countries have also followed suit. Japan excluded Victoria Falls from its travel warnings in April 2009.

2. Is the Zimbabwe dollar still in use?
No – The Zimbabwe dollar is obsolete for the foreseeable future. Goods and services are now priced and paid for in United Sates Dollars. Although the Rand, Pula and British pounds will also be accepted at the exchange rate of the day.

3. Can I use Credit Cards?
The banking system of Zimbabwe does not facilitate the use of credit cards. Therefore, only companies who have external bank accounts or sister companies outside the country are able to accept credit cards. Although the larger Hotels groups have this facility, some of them charge levies and some battle to get authorization through quick enough, so it can be a very frustrating experience. The small shops and restaurants will not accept cards and neither will most of the tour operators. Therefore it is highly unwise to depend on using your credit card within Zimbabwe. ATM machines are definitely not operational and no cash can be withdrawn. The best advice is to pre book and pay for your accommodation and activities as much as you can, then take some cash with you for spending money and extras.

4. How do I pay for my accommodation and activities?
Paying for your accommodation should be done prior to arriving in Zimbabwe, through your travel agent. Package deals including flights and accommodation are by far the most economical way to do this and they can be paid for prior to departure. Travellers cheques are accepted at some hotels and not at others.

Cash is of course accepted everywhere, but carrying large amounts is never advisable.

All activities like white water rafting and bungee jumping etc. can also be pre booked and paid for through reputable websites prior to travel as most of the tour operators do not accept credit cards when you are there.

5. What type of accommodation is available in Victoria Falls?
Victoria Falls a small tourist town situated only one kilometre from the mighty Victoria Falls. This town has developed for one reason and one reason only – Tourists.

As a result there is a wide range of hotels and lodges, bed and breakfasts, self catering and camping. From the most luxurious accommodation to backpacking hostels, whatever your budget there will certainly be something to suit you.

6. What Activities can I do in Victoria Falls?
Victoria Falls is the undisputed Adventure capital of Africa. There is an incredibly wide variety of activities that will satisfy just about everyone’s needs. For the adrenaline junkies there is the wildest one day white water rafting trip in the world, the 111 meter high bungee jump, river surfing, kayaking, helicopter and micro light flights, heart stopping gorge swings, zip wires and many more.

For the more sedate there is River cruises, elephant rides, rich local arts, crafts and cultural experiences, fishing, golf and game viewing and the list goes on and on.

7. How do I get to Victoria Falls?
Victoria Falls is accessible by Air, Rail and Road.
By Air – Both British Airways and South African Airways operate daily flights to Victoria Falls direct from Johannesburg. Air Namibia operates four flights per week from Windhoek via Maun to the Falls and Air Zimbabwe operates daily flights from Harare, on three days of the week these flights go via Bulawayo.

By Road– The roads in Zimbabwe are all still in very good condition and are probably some of the best in Africa and they are beautifully quiet to travel on. Fuel supply is unpredictable so ensure that you carry enough to travel the whole distance. Fuel is normally available in Victoria Falls at the hefty price of US$1.50 per litre.

By Rail – The Luxury Rovos Rail service travels between Pretoria and Victoria Falls and is a 2 night 3 day trip. Botswana Rail have trains that run between Francistown and Bulawayo and Zimbabwe railways have an overnight train from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls, this is an option but it is certainly not luxurious. The trains are a bit run down and I have heard reports on some of the carriages not having lights – but it is a unique African experience if you are up for it!

The train station in Victoria Falls is right next to Victoria Falls Hotel and the Kingdom Hotel and less than a kilometer from the town centre.

8. Do I need a Visa for Zimbabwe and How do I get one?
If you are staying for less than six months, you can enter Zimbabwe with minimal formalities. You will need to check whether your country of origin requires you to obtain a visa. See the Victoria Falls Travel Guide website.

Your passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months from date of entry, a return ticket to your country (or enough money to buy one) and sufficient funds to cover your stay in Zimbabwe are required.

Visas for British passport holders cost $55 single entry and $70 for a double entry visa. United States passport holders pay $30 for a single entry and $45 for a double entry visa. South Africans are issued with Gratis (Free) visas at the port of entry.

Citizens of many countries can obtain entry Visas very easily at the port of entry, and therefore it is not necessary to arrange this prior to you traveling, however some countries do require that their citizens apply prior to travel so please check this out and all other visa details at the Victoria Falls Travel Guide Website

9. When is it the best time of the year to visit Victoria Falls?
There is never a best time; each season has its own magic. From December through to May the water levels are at their highest and there is a huge volume of water plummeting over the falls which is quite spectacular. As the water level drops, from May through to December there is less water plunging over the Falls so there is less spray and the Falls become more visible. In late October and Early November before the rains arrive, parts of the Falls actually stop flowing particularly the Eastern cataract in Zambia.

As the water levels recede so the white water rafting gets wilder.  The birds and wild congregate at the river for the essential water of life.

There is always plenty of sunshine, but the winter months of June and July do get extremely cold in the evenings. The months of December and January normally experience heavy rainfall.

10. Is there malaria in Victoria Falls?
Yes – Malaria does occur in Victoria Falls and travelers would be advised to take a suitable prophylactic. Please ask your travel agent or doctor for advice before you travel. Other precautions such as mosquito nets and insect repellent are advisable.

More advice can be found at the Victoria Falls Travel Guide website.

11. Is it true that there are food shortages in Victoria Falls?
In the past there have been a shortages of food but things are now improving and you will find most things that you need – although it is very expensive.

If you are staying in a hotel, you will not have any idea that there are any shortages the menus are full and exquisite.

12. Are there fuel shortages?
Tour operators all provide their own fuel, so as a visitor this will not have any impact on your trip what so ever.

If you are a self drive tourist fuel is now normally always available in Victoria Falls, although this is not guaranteed as some weeks it is available and some weeks it is not. It is always very expensive. And I would advise filling up all fuel tanks prior to entering Zimbabwe.

13. What will happen if I get sick whilst at Victoria Falls?
Whilst it is standard practice to advise all tourists to purchase the necessary medical and evacuation cover when traveling to foreign countries, we are pleased to advise that there is an excellent private clinic in Victoria Falls manned by qualified and experienced staff.

They also have a Medical Air Rescue Service (MARS) base in Victoria Falls in the event that an emergency evacuation is required. Most activity operators and some hoteliers include MARS evacuation cover in their charges.

14. Can I drink the water in Victoria Falls?
Yes – Most, if not all locals, drink happily from municipal supplies. However, if you suspect you may have a sensitive stomach, then bottled water is recommended and is readily available.

15. What is the difference between staying on the Zimbabwean side as opposed to the Zambian side?
The most fundamental difference between staying in these two different countries is that the geographic layout means that Zimbabwe has 85% of the Victoria Falls on its side of the border. So any visitor traveling to see the Mighty Falls and then only seeing them from Zambia would have been seriously deprived.

Although wildlife conservation is now much more controlled in Zambia, much of the wild life in the past has been depleted, unlike Zimbabwe where the Zambezi National Park and surrounding wildlife conservancies are prolific with game.

Mexico Destinations For Medical Travel Abroad

Thousands of health travelers cross the southern border each year for a wide variety of medical procedures. They are able to take full advantage of the excellent quality of care that Mexico medical travel provides, while also enjoying the discounts that come with traveling abroad for various procedures. Yet only the savviest health travelers realize that there are some medical travel destinations that have specialties, and may offer more specific discounts. With the proper research, health travelers can discover the best location within the country for weight loss surgery in Mexico, or any other procedure.

Weight Loss Surgery in Mexico

Although health travelers will find that almost all medical travel destinations offer weight loss surgery, Mexico surgeons tend to recommend Tijuana for this particular type of procedure. The hospitals in Tijuana are very good and many of them have been built with an emphasis on providing for clients from out of the country. Most hospitals providing weight loss surgery in Mexico here are also very well equipped, allowing patients to have access to everything they might need during the surgery and recovery.

One additional strong point of hospitals in Tijuana is the emphasis they tend to place on value and care of the health traveler. Most hospitals there tend to give quotes upfront for weight loss surgery in Mexico and avoid adding extra charges if possible. In addition, good local hospitals will offer accommodations for one guest to accompany the patient during his or her medical travel. If the health traveler picks a good hospital, it is very likely that he or she will be able to have the guest stay within the building. Tijuana is also interesting for those who want to explore a city and have fun before their actual procedure. There are many classic attractions to see, including bull fighting and more. Shopping, sightseeing and annual special events all draw visitors to the city and often, surgery is just an added benefit.

Mexico Medical Travel Destinations

Although Tijuana is certainly notable for weight loss surgery, it is also a very prominent location for many other types of procedures. The quality of hospital in the area is generally excellent, making it a very compelling place for anyone seeking good care at reasonable prices. However, there are also other locations that draw people for Mexico medical travel. Other than Tijuana, the most popular cities are Mexicali, Monterrey, and Puerto Vallarta.

Travel To Mexicali

Mexicali is most notable for the completeness of services available there. More than most other Mexico medical travel destinations, Mexicali offers the ability to go from a general practitioner’s office to a specialist without leaving the city. There is an incredibly wide variety of health practices operating there, including facilities providing weight loss surgery in Mexico and more. There are a large number of hospitals and offices in Mexicali, offering both public and private health care.

In addition, Mexicali offers a unique cultural attraction: Chinesca, or Mexicali’s Chinatown. Many travelers enjoy arriving in Mexicali several days before their scheduled procedures to visit this rare enclave of Chinese culture within another country, providing an amazing contrast between American Chinatowns and those abroad.

Specialized Care In Monterrey

Monterrey is remarkable for its close proximity to southern Texas. It is only a 90-minute flight out of Dallas, making it easy to reach for anyone within the greater Texas area. There are hospitals here offering the full complement of services for medical travel, and the city features some of the best-equipped hospitals in the area. Monterrey tends to be a place where medical technology is updated quickly, and the surgeons and nurses train frequently to ensure that they are always up to date.

Monterrey is also a major business center, leading it to develop as a major cultural center as well. There are many attractions here that draw medical travelers, including museums, theatres, restaurants and more. Museums can be a great choice for anyone expected to undergo a stressful surgery, as visiting them does not generally place large amounts of stress on the body.

A Vacation And Surgery In Puerto Vallarta

Mexico medical travelers often choose to combine a procedure with a restful getaway in Puerto Vallarta. This location was originally known only as a getaway spot, and for many Americans that is what it remains. The city is absolutely beautiful, located on the coast with plenty of beach and sun to go around. There are many wonderful resorts that cater to a variety of tastes, from the exclusive to the family.

Because of the potential to combine treatment with a vacation, Puerto Vallarta tends to offer cosmetic surgery more than weight loss surgery. However, there are excellent hospitals for most any procedure in the immediate Puerto Vallarta area. Cosmetic surgery is simply one of the most convenient because it has some of the fastest healing times with the highest mobility, allowing vacationers to enjoy themselves more. In fact, many individuals who have cosmetic surgery in Puerto Vallarta are able to be up and walking around the city’s famous Malecon boardwalk within a few days, enjoying the sunshine and vacationing. Even those who are less mobile can enjoy the local art galleries and other less stressful attractions.

Choosing The Right Location

Although each city has its specialty, if health travelers choose wisely, they are not likely to encounter substandard hospitals or unskilled practitioners, no matter where they go for their procedure. For many, the most important feature determining where they go for Mexico medical travel will be which location is most convenient to their US residence. With weight loss surgery available throughout the country, it is usually easy to pair each individual with a hospital in a convenient location.

Do I Need a US Passport For Air Travel?

Travel rules, regulations and restrictions have changed considerably in the last decade, particularly since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. US passports are in high demand since they are currently a requirement for certain types of travel. Other types of travel do not require a US passport, though the rules will be changing again in the coming months and years. If you are planning air travel in the near future, you’re probably wondering what rules apply to you.

The changes that have occurred in land, sea and air travel regulations have come about as the result of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. This program was launched in 2004 in response to the drafting of Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. It was enacted to strengthen the security of US borders without making it prohibitive for US citizens and legitimate foreign visitors to cross American borders. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is a joint effort between the United States, Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean region. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative dictates a uniform standard of documentation which is required by every person wishing to enter and leave the areas which are covered by this agreement.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative has been implemented in several stages in order to give the public time to prepare for the changes. The first stage to affect air travel was enacted in January of 2007. The standard of required documentation for air travel has not changed since, though changes to land and sea travel have occurred in that time. According to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, all foreign air travel (i.e. airplanes leaving the United States) requires a US passport both to leave and re-enter the US.

It is important to note that travelers are not required to carry a US passport for domestic flights. There is no stipulation regarding domestic air travel in the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. However, there is speculation by travel experts and government groups that one day a US passport may be required even for domestic flights. This policy would fall into line with a number of other countries, particularly in Europe and the UK. These countries currently require locals and foreigners alike to present a passport for everything travel related, including domestic air travel and hotel stays.

It is also important to note that the documentation required for air travel is stricter than the rules for travel by land and sea. As of January 31, 2008 land and sea travel can be undertaken without a US passport. In lieu of a US passport, travelers must present a legal form of government photo identification AND a proof of citizenship document (birth certificate or naturalization certificate.) Air travelers have been caught in the confusion in the past few years and some have unfortunately found themselves stranded in airports because they were unaware that air travel requirements differ from other types of travel.

The final stage of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will take effect in June, 2009. In anticipation of this, travel agents and US government officials are urging that all American citizens apply for a US passport. A US passport is the only worldwide, universally-accepted form of travel identification. While Americans will still be able to cross land borders without one after June of 2009, a US passport will speed up the process considerably and make for fewer delays at border crossing stations.