Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Travel Like A Pro

"Now boarding, US Airways flight 708 to Munich, Germany. All passengers please proceed to gate A20."
Text & Photography By Tom Bol Published in Shooting
Travel Like A Pro
12 DON'T GET SICK. Imagine: You've saved up all year, taken all your vacation days and finally arrived at your safari camp in the Masai Mara. You're giddy with excitement—this is the trip of a lifetime. You chow down all that exotic buffet food your first night in camp, and head off to bed so you can rest up for your dawn zebra shoot.

Except you don't make it to dawn. Instead, you hardly sleep because you're up all night, sick with a terrible stomach. By far the most common "problem" I encounter leading photo tours abroad is someone getting sick. Wouldn't it be great to stay healthy?

I just follow a few simple rules to avoid getting sick. First, I always have hand sanitizer with me. Some sanitizers come with a rubber strap that you can attach to your camera bag so it's always handy. I don't use it at every meal, but after I've shaken hands with 40 local villagers, petted some dogs and wiped the dust off my pack, I'm going to either wash my hands or use sanitizer before eating.

Second, I drink bottled water. I brush my teeth with it, too. In some countries tap water is just fine, but if you have any doubts, don't drink or use the water.

Third, avoid suspect foods and don't overdo it. I love to sample local food, but I stay away from anything that looks suspicious. Thoroughly cooked foods are generally okay, so are fruits you peel. Sure, you can be a tough guy and eat the fried grasshoppers in the Cambodian market—as long as you can handle the consequences if you get sick!

Consult with your doctor before you go on your trip about vaccinations you might need and drugs to take if you do get sick. I always carry antidiarrheal medication with me in case of an emergency during the day.

13 KNOW THE LOCAL U.S. EMBASSY. One handy number and address to have with you is the local U.S. embassy or consulate in the country you're visiting (check If you have an emergency, this is where you can get help with a variety of problems.

There's a saying that the more you're prepared, the less likely anything bad will happen. Chances are your photo tour will go off without a hitch, and you'll have the trip of a lifetime. You'll be counting the days until your next trip. I just got back from Italy, and I'm already packing for my trip to Mexico. I'm ready to go!

To see more of Tom Bol's photography, visit

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