Archive for June, 2011

Travelers Health from USA’s Center for Disease Control

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

Several months before your next international trip you’ll want to make sure you are properly vaccinated and prepared for the particularly nasty bugs we don’t have to worry about much here in the USA.    In general terms the number of vaccines you’ll need will go up as the standard of living goes down in the countries you are visiting.

[CLICK HERE FOR cdc.gov Travelers Health Section]

On my February trip to Southeast Asia I got a DPT booster shot, took Typhus pills (which confer longer term immunity than shots) and got the standard “Hepatitis A” shots – all are illnesses that are very serious.  Typhus and Hepatitis A come from food or poor sanitation.   I learned late, after being told it was not needed, that Hepatitis B is also advisable in most cases.

I did choose not to take anti-malarial drugs, somewhat against the advice of the county health department (which here in Southern Oregon is the authority for international travel medical issues).   This was mostly because I knew I would not be traveling in areas of high malaria incidence.    Also, there are some nasty side effects from these drugs  and other issues and it seemed few experienced travelers take them for big cities in SE Asia.    Anti Malarials are certainly advisable for parts of SE Asia and for much of Africa.

I do have friends who travel a lot in the developing world but do NOT get many vaccines.   My feeling is that they are simply lucky, and dodging these disease bullets is a big mistake.

In any case this is a very important consideration in your travels.   Vaccinations – don’t leave home without ’em!

Carry-on baggage, luggage rules

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

As the convenience of checked baggage diminishes even as the cost skyrockets to check your luggage,  most people now opt to use the “carry on” baggage rules and bring a small suitcase on board the aircraft, usually along with a large purse, backpack, or laptop bag.     Careful packing and planning means that most people who don’t require a new outfit every day can fairly easily fit everything they need – even for a trip of a week or more – in their carry-on luggage.

For most airlines the dimension of a carry on are 45 inches in total – meaning you simply add the highth, width, and depth of the  bag.   For example a bag with dimensions 12x12x21 should be OK as well as a bag of  14x14x 17 inches.  Technically any airline can can reject bags for many reasons, but in practice you are going to be just fine sticking with the 45 inch rule and probably even fudging a bit over these measurements.    However bringing large bags may get you some glares from the other passengers as you stuff your oversized luggage into “their” bin.    A major challenge of flying now is that with so many carry on luggage folks using the overhead bins, there is little or no extra room in those bins or under seats.  Often the carry-on bags need to be stowed in bins away from your seat or handed over to flight attendants, slowing the boarding process.

It is surprising to me how poorly organized the baggage and boarding process has become – I’d suggest to the airlines that more effective use or design of the overhead  bins is immediately in order.   Flight attendants, for example, know how to most efficiently stow bags yet they generally are not helpful as flyers tug, push, crunch and smash their and other bags into the dwindling available spaces.   Another innovation might be to redesign the bins or bin doors so they can hold more, or find ways to use the massive cargo space that must now exist below as flyers increasingly turn to carry on options rather than checking bags.

Another aspect of Carry-on rules are “Prohibited Items”.    Generally for that you’ll want to observe the 3-1-1 rule we discussed earlier.   More details are here at the TSA Transportation Security Administration‘s official site.  The link takes you to the “prohibited items” section.