Health matters

Many nomads find that once they set off on their Big Lap, all the stress of their previous life melts away, they have the time and desire to engage in regular exercise and often, their health generally improves. However, none of us are getting any younger, so it’s worth putting some thought and preparation into looking after your health on the journey.

Before you Go

  • Organise a thorough health check with your doctor. Get a copy of your notes to bring with you, especially if you have any conditions that other doctors may need to know about.
  • Ensure you fill the prescriptions you require before you go and have a plan in place for refilling them. Remember that while you are in some of the more remote towns you may not have immediate access to full service pharmacies.
  • Check any medication that you are taking with you for storage instructions. The Outback heat can be intense and the temperature inside a van or car may rise beyond the recommended levels for safe storage.
  • Have a dental and optical check.
  • Ensure you bring a fully equipped first-aid kit with you. Pre-packaged first-aid kits are widely available from department stores, pharmacies, camping supply shops and even supermarkets. You can also put one together yourself. A basic kit should contain at least the following:
    First Aid Inclusions
    Bandages including roller and triangular Variety of sterile, non-stick dressings
    Saline sachets or ampoules for wound cleaning Antiseptic
    Adhesive surgical tape Band-aids
    Scissors Tweezers
    Thermometer Plain gauze squares
    Disposable gloves Pocket torch
    Alcohol swabs Insect bite lotion
    Eyebath and eye drops Cotton tips/wood
    Safety pins Pain-relief tablets
    Antihistamine tablets First aid manual
  • Take a first-aid course. It will help you cope with emergencies and will also give you extra peace of mind. Lots of organisations offer a variety of first-aid courses; you can choose one that lasts a couple of hours or one that runs a couple of days.
  • Ambulance Cover – Although Medicare provides cover for most emergency medical procedures, it does not cover transport. If you have a private health insurance policy, ambulance cover may already be included, but it’s worth checking. If you haven’t got a private health insurance policy, taking out a comprehensive one for the first time (if you are over 55) will carry a hefty price tag. Insurance policies that cover ambulance transport or perhaps ambulance, dental and optical are available from many insurance companies and are a much cheaper option. It’s also worth noting that residents of some states qualify for free ambulance cover Australia-wide, residents of other states may qualify for free ambulance transport in their state only but not Australia-wide and residents of other states may not qualify for any free ambulance cover. Check with the health authority within your state to determine what your status is.

On the Road

Once you are travelling, why not take the opportunity to look for ways to improve your health?

  • Add regular exercise to your itinerary. There are lots of opportunities for bushwalking and swimming and even the possibility of joining Tai Chi or yoga classes held at local parks.
  • Improve your Diet. Try to include lots of fruit and veges in your diet and take advantage of the fresh local produce available at markets. Also, ensure you store and handle food safely to avoid the risks of food poisoning.
  • Take it Easy. Don’t set yourself too stressful an itinerary – better to stay in one place an extra day and read the next chapter in your book, get to know your neighbours and take a little walk than to rush around visiting every monument, museum and viewpoint.
  • If you are having a big driving day, ensure you stop every two hours to take a break from driving and to get the circulation going in your legs.

Finally, bring a sense of humour with you. After all, laughter is the best medicine.


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