Prevention can go a long way in keeping you healthy during your travel. Follow these three tips and ward off some of the more common ailments. While all these can start off innocent enough, it’s important to prevent them where possible.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of filtered water. Dehydration can happen fast, especially in the tropical heat. Bring a reusable water bottle and make sure to bring it with you on your daily adventures around Belize.
- Avoid getting too much sun. Belize enjoys sunny weather year-round and the direct, overhead sun is strong. Prevent painful sunburns by using and reapplying a reef safe sunscreen. For days out on a boat with the refractive glare of the sun off the water, a long-sleeve rash guard is a good idea. Sunglasses and a sunhat are also essential.
- Prevent insect bites. Bring along an insect repellent and it’s a good idea to have a pair of long trousers, especially for jungle tours. Resorts take precautions against mosquitoes with regular treatments.
Scheduling a pre-travel checkup with your healthcare provider is important.
- Discuss vaccinations and have them administered if needed. Visit the CDC website for their recommendations on vaccinations for Belize.
- Refill any prescriptions needed before your trip. Your doctor can also prescribe any recommended medicines. Examples are antibiotics for traveler’s diarrhea or malaria prevention.
- Talk with your provider about your specific vacation plans. Include the destination, length of trip and planned activities. They can give suggestions on what you should bring in your first aid kit.
- Your provider can give you a clean bill of health. Or, suggestions for managing an existing condition while traveling. This can be important for insurance purposes if you have an injury or illness on your trip.
Healthcare and treatments tend to be less expensive in Belize than in the USA. There is currently no hospital on Ambergris Caye, though there is a polyclinic with a doctor on call. Private doctors are also on call 24/7 and can even do house calls to your resort if needed. A basic doctor consultation in Belize costs around US $30, with any treatments or tests added to that. This is for a private clinic, house calls start at US $100. A new polyclinic is under construction at Grand Caribe Resort. Located north of San Pedro Town, it is on target to open this year. Triple R Emergency Response is a volunteer emergency response team on Ambergris Caye. For serious medical emergencies, transportation to a private hospital in Belize City may be necessary. In some cases, a flight to specialty care in the USA may be the right course of action.
In San Pedro Town, there are many pharmacies should you need medication or first aid supplies. Belize’s only hyperbaric chamber in town as well. Filtered drinking water is available at all resorts and restaurants. Bring a reusable bottle to refill throughout the day to stay hydrated. It’s not recommended to drink tap water, though it is fine for brushing teeth. Travel insurance is a must, read more about the type of coverage is best for a Belize vacation, here.
Use these tips to stay safe and avoid crime while traveling. Common sense precautions, as you would use them at home, are a great place start. Lock your doors at night, do not flash cash around and don’t appear lost. When going out at night, do not become overly inebriated and stay aware of your surroundings. Belize is English speaking, making it easier to navigate and communicate. The people of Belize are friendly and welcoming of tourists, and San Pedro is generally a safe place to vacation. Follow any guidelines that your resort has in place and avoid dangerous situations.
There are some dangers in the natural world to consider as well. When snorkeling or scuba diving, be sure not to touch anything. Fire coral burns and anemones and urchins have sharp spines. Prevent biting insects by wearing long clothing or using insect repellent when needed. Common ones to avoid are mosquitoes, sand flies and fire ants. Plants have their own defense mechanisms, including sharp thorns and skin irritants. It is best to avoid touching unknown plants.
Health & Safety Packing List for Belize
Use this list, available through the CDC website, as a guide for creating your own packing list. Every item here will not apply to every traveler, work with your healthcare provider to tailor it. Bring your health insurance and travel insurance documents. Also bring contact information for an emergency contact, your healthcare provider, your resort and the US embassy in Belize.