Depending on where you’re traveling to around the world, there’s nothing that’ll ruin a holiday faster than getting attacked by the locals. And we’re not talking about local people here! We’re talking about local bugs! Nobody likes bugs, and nobody likes getting swarmed with them while you’re trying to enjoy a cool tropical drink on a beach paradise after a hard day of doing absolutely nothing.
The little devils will go out of their way to spoil your fun, and as we’ve had our fair share of being eaten alive ourselves, we thought we’d pen some advice on how to stay bite-free while you’re on the road. It’s not just for your reference readers, we need this vital knowledge just as much as you!
1. Cover it up
Before reaching for the chemicals, probably the best piece of advice is to cover yourself up. This is especially true during the “active” hours of horrible insects like mosquitos. They’re usually coming out to play early in the morning and late in the evening, around sunrise and sunset. So make sure your arms and legs are protected during this time. They’re tricky little blighters too, because they’ll hover low around your ankles thinking you can’t get at them there. Believe us, our feet have been bitten so bad they look like we’ve got measles! Long pants or even light trousers are better than bare legs, and try to wear light colours because mozzies are attracted to dark clothing.
2. Bring in the big guns
It really can’t be avoided, so you’re going to need to invest in some insect repellent. But what to choose and what actually works? What’s the safest, especially when it comes to traveling with kids – because harsh sprays can do more damage to delicate skin? Most repellents worth their salt will contain DEET, which isn’t the best for both health and the environment if you’re looking at long term use or trying to protect little loved ones. We suggest using local knowledge on this one.
Tourist hot spots in places like Southeast Asia or South America will have their own, local, tried and tested repellents. This could be something natural like coconut oil, or you could even try making your own before you get on the plane. Have a look online for natural recipes and alternatives to commercial bug sprays. Also consider using Citronella candles, which will burn for a long time and keep pesky insect away, but some places could very well already be using them. Trial and error, and go for whatever works for you.
3. Know thy enemy
With the best will in the world, you’ll probably still experience some kind of bite or sting. They’re sneaky little (insert suitable word here)! Knowing what to do about it is half the battle. Prevention will always be better than cure, but you’ll also need to be armed with the first aid knowledge to combat those insects that persevere and slip through your line of defence. And the number one, golden rule is – DON’T SCRATCH IT! DON’T DO IT! DON’T YOU DARE! You’re only going to make it ten times worse. Your best bet is to get your hands on either coconut oil or tiger balm. This stuff is a godsend and will take the itch right out. Anaesthetic itch relieving sprays are also extremely useful.
4. Get netted!
One often overlooked tool in the defence against delightful creepy crawlies is a reliable mosquito or insect net. They’re inexpensive and can be a life saver when trying to sleep at night, especially in locations where the insect population is running riot and you’re much more likely to be exposed such as camping in the jungle or staying in, shall we say, less secure accommodations. And don’t even think about not having one if you’re trying to sleep outside in a hammock.
Many places in hotter climes will already have nets installed, but if you’re on the road a long time and journeying to more remote, rural locales, you should invest in one now.
5. Shut up shop
This one isn’t exactly rocket science, but you’ll be surprised how many people overlook this blindingly obvious form of protection. Don’t leave windows and doors open! Simple right?! Again this is especially true at dawn and dusk, so make sure that you shut up shop and keep mosquito guards closed. Another good piece of advice is to make sure that no netting is damaged, because you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll find a way in when they smell that sweet, sweet blood of yours! Before bed, do a quick check of the room for any gateways in and MURDER any mosquitos you find hanging out on the walls waiting for you to go to sleep.
6. Keep it clean
Insects can be attracted to a lot of things, but you’re asking for trouble if you’re leaving left over food in your room, or generally not clearing up after yourself with a two-day-old takeaway pizza at the end of your dorm bed. Ants can be just as unsettling as mosquitos, and you don’t want to risk inviting bed bugs into your mattress.
Don’t use sleeping bags indoors, they can attract and spread these horrible things – and then the hostel gets into trouble and it’s not really their fault. Also, keep yourself washed up and don’t wear any strong smelling deodorants or fragrances. Leave the Givenchy at home!
We hope that we have provided you with a few easy tips and tricks for minimising contact with unwelcome visitors. In spite of everything, they’ll still do their best to ruin your holiday, so be prepared with a strong mind and try not to freak out too much if you’re unlucky enough to get targeted. For most, the joys of traveling far outweigh the fears of creepy crawlies, and with a little bit of preparation, you can have a bug-free vacation. Well…almost. The only way you’re going to avoid it is if you don’t actually go at all – but where’s the fun in that?! Don’t let the bugs win!