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

Health is Wealth – Staying Healthy in Nepal and Bhutan

As you are aware, staying healthy in Nepal and Bhutan may require some extra considerations and vigilance, so we are sharing some things you may want to prepare now that you are in the packing process. No need to stress out about it – we will be reviewing all the health tips we know with you at orientation – but there are a few preventative supplements and other items you may consider to give your system a boost to reduce chances of getting sick.

The Packing List in your Course Manual and previously shared on the Yak Board is comprehensive, and we carry an extensive first aid kit so it is not necessary to bring over-the-counter medications. We will provide you a healthy well-rounded Nepali and Bhutanese diet over the course of the semester that consists primarily of rice (bhat), lentils (daal), vegetables (tarkari), greens (saag), yogurt (dahi) and occasional meat (maasu) for those who partake, which will likely meet your dietary needs. Not to mention it is delicious, all natural and often grown nearby, meaning it is very local!

That said, you know your body best, so understand that these are only helpful suggestions – you are not required to bring any of this with you:

Pro-Biotics! Consider beginning to take pro-biotic pills, and consume a pro-biotic rich diet: yogurt, kombucha, kefir, apple cider vinegar (with the “Mother”), etc., starting 10 days before departure: which is now! Take 1 or 2 pro-biotics per day with water or milk, 30 minutes before a fiber-rich meal. We have observed that regular use of pro-biotics reduces stomach issues. These are also available in Kathmandu, but bring a good supply to get you started.

Travel SOAP (not hand sanitizer) for your daypack in a small plastic container (This is in addition to your toiletries soap), so you can wash your hands in any circumstance. Soap and water is more effective than hand sanitizer – though you’re encouraged to bring a small bottle of sanitizer as a back-up (refills are available in Nepal). EO carries a .33 ounce travel bottle of organic lavender sani that is amazing. Dr. Bronner’s also carries a 2-ounce organic Fair Trade sani spray.

ANTI-BACTERIAL WIPES for a dry shower when you need one. Burt’s Bees carries nice ones.

Gummy VITAMINS taste great and keep you healthy & GINGER chews are helpful for those with sensitive stomachs on windy roads.

Vitamin C / Emergenc-C / Airborne, Zinc, Echinacea, or Ginseng– you may want to consider taking this as a supplement before you board your flight to fight off colds.

Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) – acts like a natural antibiotic (nutribiotic).

Herbal teas you like: chamomile for tummy ache / stress / insomnia, mint for tummy, etc. Herbal teas are also available in Kathmandu.

Rhodiola herb (for altitude).

Activated charcoal pills act to absorb bacteria and toxins in the intestines and help to pass them easily.

Good extra insoles. These are unavailable in Nepal.

Bring a travel-sized INSTRUMENT if you play: harmonica, travel guitar, mandolin, ukulele, mouth harp, etc. Everyone loves music! It’s a great way to make friends quickly, and helps support emotional health and happiness!

Menstrual Hygiene

We strongly suggest that if you are someone who may menstruate, you bring reusable pads (like these: http://lunapads.com/) or a menstrual cup (like the Diva Cup or Moon Cup). Disposable pads are available widely throughout Nepal, tampons sporadically so. But it can be very difficult for students to find appropriate places to dispose of used pads and tampons, especially when we are on a trek or staying in villages (and even in some urban homestays). Students have found it much easier and cleaner to use reusable pads or cups. However, if you use neither the reliable pads or cups, that’s absolutely alright. We encourage you to bring enough disposable pads and tampons to last you for the entire trip.

As mentioned above, we do our best to provide the healthiest food possible at regular times in sufficient quantity, but sometimes on the village stay and trek, the nutritional content can be low and exertion high, so you may want to bring special snacks you love, or super-food powder.

A few paper face masks – with an N95 rating – for bus rides in dusty areas and walking around Kathmandu, if you think you may be sensitive to dust and pollution. You can find these at hardware / home improvement stores.

These are some of the things we have found beneficial. Anything which promotes a healthy immune system and makes you happy is great. There is a huge range of options and we encourage you to learn more about what makes sense for you.

Once you arrive in-country, we will have a more extended conversation about staying healthy in a new country – we have tons of tips and tricks to share

Thank you and Happy Packing!

Tsering, Hemant, Michael and Sharon