Don’t Hurry, Don’t Worry

Some six (or seven) years ago, I entertained the idea of wanting to set foot on all 81 provinces in the Philippines. The goal seems far-fetched until I noticed that after a couple years of local traveling, I have been to more than half. And so, I became more assertive to put that goal into fruition.

At one point, I went to a certain region for 5 days and visited one province per day. It was exhausting. Later, I realized I have missed a lot because it felt like I was racing just to see more. And as I am given more travel opportunities, it has dawned on me that it should never be about how many places you’ve been (provinces or countries or continents). No offense to my friends who are aiming at going to all 81 provinces, or those who have already achieved such a feat. I am close to ticking all 81 with just 5 more to visit, but it made me think that there should be more to this goal.

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My Europe trip in 2017 gave me a chance to visit countries I have always wanted to see. It was an almost 3-month backpacking but obviously, it wasn’t enough to see entire Europe. Not even an entire country. I didn’t even get to see all the “basic” sights of each key city I have been to. When I came to Europe, I have set my mind to take everything slow and easy, and shy away from the idea that “I should be able to visit all places that I want to see”. I didn’t see Spain or Switzerland and other must-see countries in Europe during that trip. And it was okay. I told myself that missing out some would serve as an inspiration for me to come back.

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Traveling taught me that when we are out there, we must slow down and try not to rush. It may not be true for everyone but, I have come to ascertain that people who do everything quicker also do it worse. I always say, “Take it easy” and it is but proper to really go slowly. Being in a new place usually makes us feel excited and it is no surprise if we find ourselves not wanting to miss out on anything. Hence, the tendency to try everything, see every place like a mental suitcase that’s one size too small. Every traveling person should battle this temptation because one will end up weary and worried and end up missing out the fun and the very essence of being in a certain place.

Ever since my Europe backpacking, I am becoming more of that “slow down and try not to rush” kind of person. I have been trying my best to take time in everything. I have learned to enjoy every bite of food I eat and at times closing my eyes, allowing my palate to relish every taste. Instead of taking a taxi and the metro, I have come to enjoy long walks at a slow pace and be more observant of the things I pass by. This allowed me to have more meaningful interaction with people I encounter along the way. Things like this one made me appreciate the importance of letting every other person finish their side of the conversation while I listen attentively. Perhaps, one of my favorite thing to do in every place I went to was to stop in the middle of the day, (whether I was in a park, a busy street, a food house), closed my eyes for some fleeting moments, and be aware of my breathing. And it felt so good.

Funny, and ironic it is to ponder that as we hurry more, we experience less. Although we may do more things, eat more food, or visit more places, in our haste, we end up seeing less of them. We end up feeling tired missing out on the actual fun, and that surreal sensation being in that place. From now on, remember that when you travel, make the most of what you’re doing by allowing yourself to remain in the present moment as much as possible.

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Of course, I still want to visit my country’s 81 provinces. BUT for now, I don’t want to see more, instead, I want to feel more, and BE more! And I will take my time. Take it, easy everyone.

Travel Pills & Elixirs

Dr. Jim Nicolai, a former Medical Director of an Integrative Wellness Program, once said – “Where health is the destination, wellness is the journey…

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It isn’t a secret to my friends and colleagues that I have this undeniable knack for travelling and sense of adventure. I like to be marooned by the sometimes unforgiving sun or get soaked by the unpredictable rain whether I am at the beach or on top of the mountain. Weird as it may seem to some people, but getting lost nonchalantly in a foreign city enlivens my spirit. But these sense of enthusiasm and interest dampen when I get sick. That is why, I try my best to make sure that I am always at my best element… that I am always healthy – physically, emotionally, and even mentally!

A previous post of mine tackled about the basic things that I pack inside my (travel bag). One of the essentials is your personal medicine kit. So in this write up, I am sharing to you my simple health habits, the products I use and believe in, and some secrets (my travel pills and elixirs).

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Getting stressed and experiencing fatigue are common during travel. And surprisingly, there is no single cure for stress. If our coping mechanism isn’t able to resolve these stressors, they eventually take a toll on us and could lead to symptoms like headache, body pain, cough and colds, sleepless nights, and many more.

I am pretty sure these warning signs have at one point hindered you from going on a trip or a long-time planned beach getaway and the like. And it sucks to think that all the excitement would totally die down just because you are sick. I hate having headache, and I despise having cough and colds. So what do I do? As a pharmacist, I actually have some personal rituals and favorite products (yes, you read that right I have my personal biases). Hahaha! So read along.

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To make sure that I won’t get sick, I hydrate myself with enough fluid (not necessarily water) like juice, tea, and energy drinks (hello, Gatorade ® which is still my super tried and tested hydrating fluid). I eat alooooot of fruits. Shout out to my all-time favorites – watermelon, strawberries, bananas, and oranges (well, whichever is in season). If my trip involves some mountain climbing activity, I allot some time to do running and brisk walking.

Pack my med kit. So what’s inside it? I consider the following my travel pills and elixirs:

  • Vitamins (Enervon Activ ® now, Enervon ® syrup when I was young. Because it’s our mom’s choice.)
  • Hand Sanitizer and isopropyl alcohol (not ethyl)
  • Paracetamol – this is for my sudden headache which could really turn my mood 360 degrees, hahaha)
  • Tuseran capsule (I go for this one to manage my cough and colds).
  • Some anti-histamine (because at times I experience cold allergies).
  • Antidiarrheals (I usually go for loperamide).
  • Ginger candies like Gingerbon ® to suppress dizziness and vomiting.
  • Band-Aid J, cotton, wet wipes
  • Povidone Iodine (my antiseptic of choice)
  • Insect repellant lotions/ sprays (Off ® with chamomile is my choice).
  • Strepsils ® – favorite lozenge!

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During my recent Europe trip, my preparedness was tested when on several occasions I some sort of got sick. Traveling around the Baltic area (Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania) was memorable because I spent several days (7 am to 9 pm), walking around the key cities. I had terrible headaches at night and even got cough and colds. These were most likely due to the warm weather during the day and the nasty and biting cold temperature at night. I am really glad I have my anti-fever/ mild painkillers with me. Good thing too, I packed several Tuseran ® 2-in-1 capsules for my cough and colds. Since I am compliant with whatever medicines I take, in no time, I was back at my normal state – healthy and kicking. (PS: Being compliant with your medication’s dose and schedule is very essential to getting treated. That’s me being a pharmacist).

 

From cold Iceland to rainy Poland to humid Manila – my body was probably shocked with the outright adjustments it had to undergo. So I had another episode of cough and colds (and sore throat). This time, because of this sudden change in temperature, I had developed allergies (urticaria). Could you just imagine the burden, especially at night? I was worried because I have scheduled speaking engagement in Zamboanga in 4 days’ time.

Coincidentally, I was talking to physician friend of mine one time when she suggested that I try the new Tuseran Night ®. Keen about the medication I intend to take, I went on to search what it contains. Since it both contains diphenhydramine and phenylpropanolamine, I was convinced it will do wonders for my cough, cold, and allergies. (Shout out to Doc Nessa for the suggestion!) I still have a few pieces of my Tuseran capsules and cetirizine (anti-allergy meds) left from my EU trip but I opted to try out the new Tuseran Night ® (which by the way is in syrup form). And boy I am glad I did go for it because it’s like an all-in-one form of relief for my cough, my colds, my allergies PLUS I get to sleep better. Thanks to diphenyhydramine’s anti-allergy effect.  (Ooooooooooops, sorry guise if my pharma background is making your nose bleed upon reading these). Hahaha!

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Aside from preparing those medications, during any of my travels, I also drink a lot of tea products. Lemon – Ginger Tea and Black Mint Tea are my favorite. If I could get hold of honey, I would often mix it with my drink. Also, I like having probiotic drinks that usually helps me with my GI problems.

I have asked my equally adventurous friends to share some of their health tips and practices.

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The information I have shared here are my personal choices. Of course it is still best to go visit your general practitioner, or a doctor who can specialize the medicine you need during your travel/s. But, it is also good to note that as individuals who like travelling, make sure you always have an extra space for your own medication kit!

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Thank you to Jan of The Kapampangan Traveller, Hance of The Restless Pinoy Traveler, Jeff of Donde si Jepepips, Jonel of Eljontology, Jit (aka @aren_emdi), claro (aka @claro.i) and Aljen (aka @dirtikid).

So remember, stay healthy and safe travels. Don’t be a wasted soul, be JUANderust. Take it easy everyJUAN!