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The Tiger's Nest in Bhutan. Photo by Chelsea Ferrel.

Staying healthy this summer starts now!

Dear students and families of Bhutan Summer 2019,

As we start looking ahead to our incredible upcoming adventure, we wanted to offer a few pointers on how to stay healthy during our time travelling together. Travel can introduce health issues that you may not have thought about or considered before. Remaining healthy will be a topic that we will discuss from your very first days of course and re-visit throughout the course as need be. Please read these following suggestions and take them into account as you pack and prepare.

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Medications and Supplements:

If you take any medication on a regular basis, whether it is prescription or over the counter, please ensure that you bring enough to last the entire trip. Do not assume that you will be able refill prescriptions or acquire the same medications while in Bhutan.

We travel with a fully-stocked medical bag that includes prescription and over the counter medications. This includes generic forms of immodium, pepto-bismol, Tydenol, cough drops, and Advil as well as nasal decongestant and cold medicine. There is no reason for you to bring your own stash of these medicines. If you do decide to, please note that the instructors will hold onto them throughout the duration of the trip.

However if you would like to bring supplements or herbal medicines that work for you, we encourage you to do so – many students bring vitamins, probiotics or alternative remedies, and we can make some recommendations of ones that work well if you are interested!

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Food:

We will have access to nutritious and well-balanced food during our whole time together. However if you have specific dietary needs such as not eating meat or dairy, then the diet may be quite repetitive or restrictive in Bhutan. You may want to think about bringing some snack bars or other packaged foods that meet your eating requirements with you to supplement your diet.

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General Hygiene:

Our hands are our greatest cause for disease. Because of this there are two items we suggest bringing along with you.

  • Nail clippers – this is to keep your nails short so that no dirt or bacteria can build up
  • Dr. Bronners 59 ml soap bottle – These will be super useful everywhere, anywhere

In terms of keeping your hands clean, you may be tempted to bring some antibacterial hand gel with you. You are welcome to do so, but bear in mind that using this is not an adequate alternative to washing your hands! Instead, some Dr. Bronners or travel bar of soap is a useful thing to pack in your day bag.

We also recommend bringing some extra ziplock bags for times when we need to carry out trash, and an extra bandana to use for keeping clean.

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Altitude:

When traveling to higher altitudes many students are concerned about altitude sickness. We are conscious of this and ensure that we acclimatize appropriately, which means we ascend to higher altitudes at a slow pace and we ensure our activity level and food consumption matches the altitude we are at.

On this course, we will not be spending extended time at high altitudes as it will be monsoon season. Our trek will be in the lower foothills and only just briefly passing over the threshold where altitude is a concern. However even at these lower levels it is essential to practice good self-care, and essentially, to remain hydrated. Hydration helps to combat many health issues that occur, altitude sickness, stomach upsets etc. It is important is that you have at least two liters worth of water storage with you.

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Insects bites:

No part of the program will take place in malarial areas. There will be mosquitoes and also other kinds of midges and biting flies at lower altitudes at this time of year though, so insect repellent can be useful. We have found that the natural kind, with citronella, is effective and not so harsh on your skin or the environment as the chemical kinds!

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Menstrual hygiene:

If you may have a period on course, ensure that you have enough materials for the whole month of travel. While you can purchase sanitary pads in Bhutan, tampons are not really available so it is best to bring a big supply. In addition, we encourage you to look into options that can reduce and eliminate waste such as reusable sanitary pads. Thinx is also a really great company that makes underwear with sewn in sanitary pads. They are comfortable and easy to clean.

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As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with us through the Yak Board or through email.

Here’s to staying healthy on our trip!

Claire and the I-Team.