Be sure to hydrate on the road

imageBy Vicki Barnes
I have long been an advocate of proper hydration. You know, drink water…lots of water…all day, every day.
So, imagine my  surprise when I looked back on a day last week and realized I was so dehydrated that I was actually suffering from heat exhaution.
We were traveling about 8 hours on the un-airconditioned bus to cross the border between Panama and Costa Rica.  All day, sitting on the bus with a brief stop to get passports stamped, walk a half a kilometer from one country to the other, get another stamp and reboard.
Over the course of the day, I drank about a liter and a half of water. I figured that should be sufficient.
I figured wrong.
By the time I staggered off the bus at the end of the day, I felt lightheaded and confused. Steve said my face was red and, despite the heat, I was not sweating.
Heat exhaustion and dehydration.
A liter of water later and half an hour staring  into the face of a fan, and I was feeling more level headed. For the rest of the day, I just kept drinking water, trying to help my body return to normal.
Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke. That can land you in the hospital.
When you’re traveling, especially in the tropics, don’t slow your intake of water because you are less active.
-Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light colored clothing
-Drink lots of water
-Avoid alcohol
-Stay in the shade as much as possible (make your own shade if necessary: put a towel or shirt over the bus window if you can, for example)
-If you are taking medications for high blood pressure or certain anti-depressants, know that these can make you more prone to heat-related illnesses and dehydration. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if you need to be even more careful.

-Get into a cool place as quickly as possible
-Drink lots of water
-Use a wet cloth to cool your head and face
-Loosen your clothes and take off anything that you don’t need to wear

9 responses to “Be sure to hydrate on the road

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  6. Morgan Eastman

    I’m curious your opinion on this…you’re a strong advocate of drinking water, which I totally understand. But in countries where tap water is not as clean, people are advised to drink bottled water. But bottled water can get very expensive very fast…how would a traveller go about acquiring clean water for free? Perhaps a homemade purification system, or something of the sort? Just something to think about. I’m going on a road trip this fall and am trying to figure out ways to acquire water on the road, especially up in the mountains. I have found some DIY purification system that is cheap and nearly free overtime, but I haven’t built it myself yet.

    • Hi Morgan, sorry it’s taken so long to respond. We’ve been busy getting the boat set up to cruise. I do carry a personal water purifying bottle with me. It has a charcoal filter for removing solids and one can add iodine tablets to kill micro-organisms. I carried it throughout Central America but rarely used it and never got sick. Probably a good idea to use though if there is ever any doubt. Nothing worse than getting very sick while traveling.

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