This group includes those who travel alone or in small groups on self-organized trips, and includes; trekkers, mountaineers, climbers, bikers, canoeists, scuba divers, etc. etc. The list is endless. This type of excursion usually involves travelling on foot or public transport and staying in simple cheap accommodation. This can expose travellers to additional health risks and it is this group of travellers who will probably benefit the most from taking their own customized medical kit with them.
Vaccinations should be arranged with the doctor or nurse as soon as possible, ideally at least six weeks before travelling. Check if malaria is endemic in the region to be visited.
Travellers are also likely to be exposed to infections and should be aware of measures to prevent illness from food and water, insects and animals and close personal contact with locals.
Mosquito and other insect bites can be minimized through wearing suitable clothing, using repellents and a mosquito net. Beware of the risk of accidents when trekking or travelling on poor roads in badly maintained vehicles.
Backpackers may find themselves alternately in major cities with access to medical facilities and then in remote areas far away from medical help. They should therefore seriously consider taking a medical kit for the times when they will be far from help. A comprehensive first aid kit is important especially if going to areas remote from medical facilities.
Contamination of food and water is a major cause of illness in travellers. Unless certain of the purity of the local water supply, stick to boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. Alternatively, water can be sterilised with iodine drops/tablets or with a quality filter. Dishes and cutlery should also be washed with sterilised water. Hot tea, coffee, beer and wine are usually safe. Ensure that milk has been pasteurized and that cheese, cream and ice cream are made from milk that has been pasteurized. Peel all fruit, eat only cooked vegetables and avoid salads. Ensure that seafood, fish and meat are thoroughly cooked and eaten hot whenever possible. Avoid leftovers. Wash hands before eating or handling food and always after using the toilet.
A situation that is exciting and welcome to one person can be daunting to another. Possible problems include adjusting to a different climate, unusual food, religious and cultural differences, separation from family, changes in living standards, different social amenities, language differences, coming to terms with poverty, begging, and compulsory movement restrictions for safety or political reasons. Being open to new and different cultures and being patient, rather than critical, will help the traveller adapt to new and challenging adventures.