Weasel coffee

If you are travelling around Southeast Asia, chances are that you will visit a coffee plantation at some point. Supporting local farmers is important, but there is a dark side to the roasting process.

In Vietnam, coffee is a serious business. Second only to Brazil, it exports the most grounded coffee of any country in the world. The most expensive coffee you can buy is called Kopi Luwak, otherwise known as ‘weasel coffee’ which retails at around $40-$100 a cup. This coffee is touted as ‘exclusive’ since the way it is harvested means that there is a limited supply.

A man slow roasts coffee beans in Bali

Wild luwaks are palm civet cats that select the ripest coffee cherries as part of their diet. The beans are not fully digestible, so they pass out almost intact, but with an added ‘musky’ flavour. Through partly digesting the beans using enzymes in its stomach, the acidity is changed and the resulting flavour is supposedly less bitter. Once cleaned, the beans are processed in the same way, but the selling point is that a wild animal has chosen only the best beans for your morning cup.

Coffee does really grow on trees

The problem is that wild luwaks are poached to maintain this story. Caged and force fed a restricted diet of coffee cherries, they are kept in squalid conditions in order to harvest their droppings. Without eating other important foods such as fruit, the animals inevitably become sick. Their naturally shy demeanour means that being on constant display and positioned next to other luwaks causes them further suffering.

Tony Wild, who has been credited with introducing this ‘poop coffee’ to the West, is now championing more sustainable ways to farm. His campaign in 2013 Kopi Luwak – Cut the Crap has garnered over 50,000 signatures to put an end to the practice of capturing palm civet cats for this process. He has called on retailers, including Harrods where he worked, to stop stocking this type of coffee. His book, Coffee: A Dark History, delves into the uncomfortable truths about coffee production, from animal cruelty to colonisation.

Despite the 2013/2014 movement fuelled by Wild that highlighted the plight of palm civet cats in making coffee, the persistent demand for Kopi Luwak means that the farmers have not stopped this practice. When I visited Bali in late 2018, I was surprised to see many road signs still promoting luwak coffee. Despite the backlash against this exploitative method, many coffee plantations still use confined civet cats and even showcase them as part of their tours.

Coffee cherries with visible beans

The thought of eating something derived from dung gives it a queasy appeal for those wishing to try something novel. It is still possible to buy pounds of weasel coffee online, and the influx of fake versions further attests to its popularity. Be wary of any farms that claims to have a ‘sustainable’ method of producing weasel coffee, since any method that inhibits a wild animal or breeds them in captivity is not ethical. Putting profit over the well-being of wildlife is not a sustainable practice.

Since 2014, new legislation and certification has been introduced to reduce the number of caged luwaks. The Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) is used by the Rainforest Alliance to help consumers choose coffee that has been farmed responsibly, and the UTZ also provides a certificate for sustainable coffee production. However, getting your hands on a legitimate bag of weasel coffee can be a challenge since the high retail price attracts many imitators who claim to be certified.

Although awareness of these civet cat farms has increased over the past decade, many tourists may not realise the true price of this coffee. If you are looking for a way to experience culture in Southeast Asia, trying weasel coffee may just leave a bitter taste in your mouth.

Borneo’s big five

You’ve heard of the Big Five in Africa, but have you heard of Borneo’s version?

The first animal on our list was the reason we had travelled to Borneo – the orangutan. The Sepilok orangutan rehabilitation centre is wildlife conservation at its best, with a focus on protecting the orangutans from the deforestation for palm oil production, while preparing them to be reintroduced to the primary forests.

The first orangutan we saw was from the boardwalk, a young male that looked as though its fur was on fire as it caught the early sunlight. With black fingernails, he clasped the branches with finesse as he climbed down to the feeding platform. The orangutans here are not guaranteed sightings, and in fact, the guides said it was a good sign not to spot them as it meant they were foraging for themselves. This brought them one step closer to being re-released into the wild.

We also encountered a giant male with impressive side flanges who seemed to have a monopoly on the larger feeding sight. Swinging from a rope and bellowing, his presence was undeniable. However, a mischievous pig-tailed macaque stole fresh fruit from under his nose undetected.

We would spot three more orangutans outside of Sepilok, solitary individuals who were making their nightly nest high in the canopies, feeding on the fringes of the rainforest, or emerging from the thick canopy above.

Back on the river, it wasn’t long before we spotted animal number two. Our wooden boat lurched down the swollen river, so full of mud that everything below the surface was hidden. Sunning itself on the bank with its jaws open in a menacing pant, it flexed each of its muscular legs before thumping down its thick tail and slipping into the water. Our guides pulled at the motor as we scanned the chocolate river for a sign, but the 3m long saltwater crocodile had disappeared without even a ripple.

On a night tour, we would see dozens of glimmering golden eyes bobbing on the surface, not disclosing the size of the body beneath. On a dawn outing in the boat, a 4m male swam underneath us and rose to let us watch his endless scaly spines submerge once more.

Our third spot came suddenly, as a troop of proboscis monkeys disturbed the outer edges of the rainforest by leaping and shaking the leaves. The males, most famous for their protruding noses, sported potbellies and sat apart from the rest. The females carried younger members of the group, with the same rounded stomachs on show as they jumped to higher branches.

Proboscis monkeys are endemic to Borneo and are endangered through loss of natural habitat. To avoid being hunted by leopards, monitor lizards and eagles, they sleep on the edge of the rainforest, finding the lightest boughs that will support them. However, one misstep or ill-timed spring could land them in the water, where a hungry crocodile will snap them up instantly.

From the Kinabatangan River, we noticed rope bridges connecting the distant banks. These were introduced by conservationists to provide safe passage for orangutans, but they are inevitably used by other species who are not keen to test the waters.

As we approached the Sukau Rainforest Lodge, one of National Geographic’s unique lodges of the world, we noticed a chalkboard full of scribbled names of recent sightings. Our hopes of seeing number three were raised for the next morning, but of course, nature is unpredictable.

We set out early to reach the oxbow lake, and saw frogs, silvery langurs and graceful egrets with curved necks. We had seen sombre black hornbills roosted on dead stumps, a pair of ghoulish mating white-crested hornbills, Oriental pied hornbills with their grand casques flying in single file, and we would later see nesting bushy-crested hornbills in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve.

Fourth on our list was the rhinoceros hornbill, with an impressive casque coloured like flames in contrast with its monochromatic plumage. Our guide pointed to a silhouette high on a branch, and as the mist dissipated, its colours were revealed. The male preened himself and its decorative casque swayed elegantly as it moved its beak around.

The final animal on our list was one that our guides said was rather elusive, despite its size. The Borneo Pygmy Elephant is the smallest elephant species in the world, but adult males still reach up to 2.5 metres high. Having already seen so many incredible species, we were content with the peaceful boat ride down the river.

Just as we were about to turn back to the lodge, we heard a splintering crack from the bank. Our guide killed the engine, and we sat in silence, listening to the disturbed water lapping the side of the boat. The sound of snapping again, followed by a glimpse of a grey, weathered trunk.

Before long, a whole herd of elephants was munching its way to the river’s edge. Juvenile elephants playfully chased their elders in circles, before retreating into the rainforest. A scarred male, missing half a tusk, stood apart from the rest. The matriarch of the group, an old female, led the group, and for a moment, we thought she would enter the water. However, she slowly turned and walked back into the treeline, the view clear after they had demolished the undergrowth.

If you would like to experience a wildlife tour in Borneo, we recommend Borneo Eco Tours. Not only do they hire local guides who are experts at spotting wildlife and sharing stories, they are consistently recognised for their commitment to conservation efforts and prioritise the welfare of the animals and local communities.

With any wildlife encounter, sightings are not guaranteed. Seeing an animal in its natural habitat is special, but it is even more so when it is not a given. If you would like to book a wildlife tour, we recommend this 5 day, 4 night experience that is a budget tour including Sukau Rainforest Lodge and the Tabin Wildlife Reserve.

Chillout House

Walking past the striped hammocks and passing through the sliding glass doors, your eyes are first drawn to a hand painted white swinging chair. Then, you notice a growing tree placed in the centre of the room, and nearby stools carved from standing logs.

A painted sloth reclines dozily, and there are colourful chalked Costa Rican phrases (Que tuanis) above reception. A selection of cosy corners invite any visitor to throw down their bags and lay down for a quick siesta.

The hostel is surrounded by cloud forests

Chillout House is a hostel known for its recycling, encouraging its guests to separate their waste responsibly, but it also showcases a myriad of ways to lovingly restore items to surpass their former glory.

You’ll find the owner, Edith, buzzing around and fixing up her next creative project. From her hanging pineapple plants to her modernist lamp shades made from white rice containers, she is never short of ideas on how to spruce up her place.

A tea tree

Having spent two weeks at her hostel, it was clear that Edith epitomises the word ‘strong.’ Not only did she build the place with her own bare hands and a bucketload of grit, you’ll often find her dead lifting weights on the balcony.

The hostel used to be Edith’s family home. When she divorced, she lost everything except the bare bones of her house. Needing to work, she moved to La Fortuna to help one of her brothers at his restaurant. There, she began to formulate ideas for her own business.

After two years of hard graft and discovering her entrepreneurial spirit, in 2015 she decided to turn her house, which was being looked after by a friend, into a hostel.

Made by hand with love

Initially, her idea was met with disbelief. Some said that the location was too far from central Santa Elena despite it being only a fifteen minute walk.

Still, her new venture was difficult to envisage at that point. The place was empty and she had no furniture except for her own bed and a small bedside table. She said that her family weren’t totally on board at first, and instead she received pity rather than encouragement.

Yet, little by little, she began to acquire the things she needed. She asked around for any donations and told me that her neighbours couldn’t understand why she wanted their old pots and pans. Over time, she gained chairs, a fridge, then some beds.

This bed was transformed into a breakfast bar

When she was ready to open her doors to guests, her family still needed some convincing. Looking at the rooms, her daughters said that there weren’t enough home comforts to make it work.

However, the first group of guests were delighted. The growing reviews of her hostel were positive, earning her a high score and commendations on TripAdvisor. Where Edith saw flaws and improvements to be made, her guests saw quirky and creative solutions full to the brim with character.

Edith learnt how to upcycle through necessity

That is what makes the Chillout House so special. It is Edith and her family. Wherever you look, it is evident that a lot of heart has gone into forging the place as it is today.

I look forward to returning soon to see how the place evolves further, and saying hello to the adorable Alaska.

Alaska will be on hand for cuddles throughout your stay

Edith continues to be a trailblazer and you can find her new pop-up restaurant Qiao Pierde in Santa Elena (next to Restaurante Mar y Tierra). Currently serving crepes, it will soon offer the biggest burger in town!

If you would like to stay at the Chillout House, you can book through Booking.com, Hostelworld or Agoda.

Address: Barrio Valle Bonito, Calle #1 Monteverde Chillout House, Calle 1, Provincia de Puntarenas, Monteverde, Santa Elena, Monteverde, Costa Rica.

Price: varies depending on room and season, but around $15/night. This is great value for money compared to other places we’ve stayed in Monteverde.

Breakfast: various options available for 3,500 Colones each, including a continental breakfast, typical Costa Rican breakfast or a wrap. I highly recommend the pancakes and fruit option.

Kitchen: There is a fully stocked kitchen with a shared fridge and individual shelves for storing groceries if you wish to cook yourself.

Other services: laundry for $4/kg. Edith or her daughter Betsy can help you book ziplining tours, horseback adventures, night tours, or arrange your transport to the nature and wildlife reserves nearby. They can also book buses for onward travel.

Breakfast made by Edith

Travel buddies

When I think about my travels, my memory sometimes lets me down. It becomes increasingly hard to distinguish something real against a memory forged from a photograph.

Pictures and films help us to record experiences, but they are not always true to reality. They cannot recreate the moment so that you can feel the same things as before. The sky was a different colour. The menacing monkey was surely larger. Who is that hidden in the edges of the frame?

Asides from messy scribbles jotted down on overnight buses, I rely on the memories of my travel buddies. Yet it’s difficult to describe the exact smell of the streets in Jaipur, the subtle flavours of an authentic Cambodian dish, or how I passed the time on a 26 hour bus ride back to Cusco.

One thing I can recall clearly are the people, or rather, the lasting imprint of meeting them. Travellers often cross paths only once, but these individuals will stay with me:

The taxi driver in Jaipur who learnt all his English from Alan Partridge and ill-advisedly allowed Tom to drive his tuk tuk down the street. The small boy with brown teeth who brought joy to an otherwise hellish coach from Vientiane to Hanoi. The silent Thai man wearing a bandanna who fed his white kitten fish crackers in a bar, before commandeering the live band to play karaoke with us.


The Vietnamese brothers who took us on a motorbike tour of Dalat, driving through villages where children rode water buffalo down dirt roads. The elderly Peruvian mountain guide nicknamed ‘The Cat’ who bounded effortlessly ahead on the Salkantay Pass to reach Machu Picchu. A young Indian girl, the namesake of my friend, who taught me bhangra moves at a wedding in Delhi.


The German cousins who toured with us around Kerala and shared their views on Ayurvedic medicine. The inspirational Dutch woman who sold her house, bought a waffle cart and travelled the world. The laughing border control officers in Laos who saw me stagger off the boat, flu-ridden, into waist deep mud.

The man with the golden eyes in Kerala who convinced us to meet him before dawn for a sunrise paddle. The family we stayed with on the remote island of Amantani who heartily welcomed us and showed us how to dance. The competitive American author who raced us down a 200ft sand dune in the desert oasis of Huacachina.


The family in Udaipur who spent the afternoon decorating us in henna, whom we thanked with an impromptu family portrait. The diving couple in Komodo National Park who had dived hundreds of times yet still wanted to see more. The restaurant owner who proudly taught us complimentary phrases (for haggling) in Balinese when we visited him.


The daredevil guys who took us paragliding in the Himalayas but narrowly missed a tree on the ascent. The giant Russian man who joined our mud bath in Nha Trang and emptied it instantly. The young entrepreneurial girl hustling in a temple in Angkor to pay for school fees.


The wildlife guide in Borneo who played Christmas tunes with his nostrils using a specially carved pipe. The enthusiastic farmer in Laos who showed us how to steer a water buffalo and harvest rice. The guide who proudly showed us the delights of Quillabamba despite the promised waterfall being dried up.


I’ve realised that the best travel experiences happen when you let go of control. It takes courage to swallow your cynicism, suspicion and worries.

Only then can you fully embrace an opportunity and allow yourself to be surprised by what you’re experiencing, rather than what you’re expecting from the guide book description.

Sometimes that means taking the risk of being ripped off, trusting someone you’ve just met to show you around, or simply being able to laugh when plans go awry (which they often do).

Part of travelling responsibly is being social, establishing meaningful connections and engaging with local customs. To traverse the cultural divide, you have to abandon your comfort zone and challenge your existing ideas. Of course, I’m not advocating that you go do something dangerous, but measured risk is part of the adventure.

Imagine how many more meaningful connections we would make if we thought the best of strangers and sought to know them better, even if our time together is brief.

What have you learnt from travelling? Who are the people that have left the greatest impact on you?

The hidden waterfall tour, Bali

As I approached the ledge, I passed a painted wooden sign tied to a tree trunk. It read, ‘Never try, never know…Test your adrenaline!’ Before I could reconsider, I bounded forwards. The guide stopped me, telling me I had to do a standing jump rather than a running leap. The stone underfoot was cold and wet. My toes curled instinctively over the ledge as Kroya waterfall spat a frothy stream towards me. “Three…two…one…”

Our driver Wayan was visibly distraught. After a long three hour journey winding our way north, we had suffered a burst tyre and were now sat beside a paddy field, far from the last town. We were relatively close to the secret waterfalls, but for now we were stranded.

We understood his frustration. As we drove past the misty shadow of Mt. Agung, Wayan described how his family, who lived within 6km of the volcano, had been evacuated months before. Living in a shelter with his wife and two children, he explained the difficulties of trying to sleep and continue living while the threat of an eruption loomed over them all. This was back in December 2017, and the volcano continues to erupt with an evacuation zone of up to 9km.

He had tried to return to his house to collect some belongings, but officials had turned him away empty handed. In contrast to the media reports that feared the repercussions of lost trade through lower numbers of tourists, he told us that the locals were praying for the volcano to erupt. Waiting in limbo was more of a punishment than losing everything and having to rebuild their lives.

I stood on the ledge, willing my legs to move. They were now planted stiffly. An uncomfortable tingle had lodged itself in the crux behind my knees and in the space between my fingers. A queue had formed behind me. Counting me down to an anticlimax. Expecting me to jump.

As I weakly stumbled back towards the safety of the rocks, I looked up at my family. They had signed up for a whole day of waterfall adventures, and this was only the first jump at 5m. The rest were much higher, at 10m and 15m respectively.

Morale was slipping. I caught sight of a man clambering down the slippery craggy path from the road. It was Wayan, our driver, who had managed to repair the tyre on his car and was rushing to join us.

I pulled the strap of my life jacket and turned round. I strode up to the edge and looked over briefly to qualm my fear of braining myself on the rocks below. The young guide began to tentatively count me down. I moved my weight from my back leg forwards, then fell through the air, not wanting to let Wayan down.

Next, the guide held me in the stream and my legs flopped before me uncontrollably. I was dangling at the top of Kroya waterfall, 12m high. The life jacket buffeted my head as the water tried to dislodge me from the safety of his grip. I tried to make sense of what he was saying, but the deluge of water was all I could hear.

Before I could take a breath, I was spitting out water. My body was in free flow over the edge. My eyes were open but all I could see was spray. I was temporarily held under, before being promptly spat out. I found myself in the serene pool once more, floating downriver to the next waterfall.

The next jump made the first look like child’s play. At 10m high, you could count a clear second or two before your body hit the water. The cliff edge was decorated with pebble dash which made the launch spot uneven underfoot. I watched my partner Tom jump and reemerge around the bend. The grey shadows of rocks could be seen below, so this needed to be a confident jump outwards to clear them.

I psyched myself up, trying not to overthink it this time. Just head to the edge and go. Never try, never know. As I was preparing to jump, a crippling fear overcame my legs. I spun and held onto the guide’s forearms for support. I was laughing but my knuckles were white. I could not move, not even away from the edge. I looked at my family again, who had already decided they were out. I asked Tom to go again.

He didn’t even blink. He casually walked past me, glanced down, then was gone. He resurfaced with a big grin on his face. While he was in the pool below, I would join him, I decided. The only way down there was to jump.

After resigning myself to the fact that this one was simply too high, I was surprised to find that I was hurtling downwards. Shrieking, I crashed into the water and my bottom was slapped hard. I had forgotten to straighten my legs for impact. I clumsily pawed my way over to Tom, my life jacket bobbing around my neck.

The final jump gives me toe cramp just thinking about it. The last waterfall was 15m high, only accessible using a flimsy dog-chewed rope across the fast river. The undergrowth hid the jagged edge of the rocks leading to the abyss below. The guide did not demonstrate this jump. Our gaze followed the water down. It surged forward with a new urgency, dissipating into vapour as it struck a large pool, inky black in its depths.

I did not even entertain the idea of conquering this fall. The last had left a big impression on me (quite literally, my bum cheeks were bruised). This jump was fifty percent bigger. From up here, time would be suspended for a good three seconds as you plunged downwards.

Yet Tom lined himself up and reassured himself of the landing spot. He glanced sideways at me then leapt past the scratchy undergrowth and just out of reach of the hissing water. He screamed this time, before disappearing into a shock of water.

We craned our necks to see over the side. He had not surfaced in the still lagoon yet. Then, with the power of a champagne cork, he launched up in triumph. “How many people complete this last jump?” I asked the guide as we walked down to join him. “Not many. Not many are that stupid.”


In the final part of our journey, we walked back upstream and followed a thin snaking path. The sound of pounding water found us before we set eyes on the Aling Aling waterfall. At 35m high, it was a force to be reckoned with. Spray erupted and hung in the air like mist as the thunderous sound grew deafening. This was a jump that even Tom would not attempt.

Tour company – Pink Gorillaz. The Secret Waterfall tour includes transportation. See website for prices and details.

Travel vaccinations

The flights are booked. You’ve found some accommodation. The travel itinerary is filling up. Maybe you’ve even sorted your travel insurance.

But have you researched whether you need any travel vaccinations, or visited your local travel health clinic to talk about immunisation?

When should I look into getting travel vaccinations?

As soon as possible! The NHS recommends visiting your GP or a private travel clinic at least eight weeks before travelling.

Depending on the country you’re visiting, you may need to book a series of injections beforehand. Some vaccinations need to be administered a certain number of days before you travel to ensure your immune system is ready.

For example, according to the WHO (World Health Organisation), the schedule for the rabies vaccinations differs, but it is usually administered in three separate visits in the space of 28 days.

Likewise, if you need the Japanese encephalitis vaccine, it will be given in three doses.

Can my doctor administer my travel vaccinations?

It depends on whether the clinic is registered to give out immunisations, and which vaccinations you need.

However, if you have any existing medical conditions or allergies, it is a good idea to speak to your doctor first. Similarly, younger and older travellers may be more vulnerable so seek out medical advice.

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or suffer from immune deficiencies, you will need to consult with your doctor before booking an appointment elsewhere.

Where should I go to get my travel vaccinations?

You may be able to see your doctor for the travel vaccinations you need, but they may not have everything readily available since vaccinations have expiry dates, so it is not cost-effective to store them.

Instead, many countries have specialist travel health clinics that offer comprehensive travel vaccination services. It is worth researching online to find a clinic near you.

What do I need to think about?

There are a few important things to consider when planning your itinerary:

  • The country you are coming from
  • The country (or countries) you are heading to
  • The specific areas you’ll visit (i.e. coast, mountains, cities, jungle, etc.)
  • How long you will be there
  • The modes of transport you’ll be using
  • The types of activities you’ll be doing
  • Whether you will encounter wild animals
  • The accommodation you’re likely to stay in
  • The type of weather / season
  • The food and drink you plan to eat

If you are backpacking in more rural areas and planning on eating local, trekking in the jungle and camping outdoors, you may be more susceptible to airborne or waterborne diseases than a holidaymaker who has booked a package deal in a four-star hotel.

Are travel vaccinations necessary?

Vaccinations can be categorised into three types according to WebMD:

  1. Routine – the standard vaccinations for children and adults in your country, usually including tetanus, diphtheria, MMR, influenza, rotavirus, polio, HPV, chicken pox, whooping cough, pneumococcal disease and hepatitis B.
  2. Recommended – additional vaccinations to reduce the risk of contracting diseases that are present in the country you are visiting, such as the rabies, cholera, malaria, tick-borne encephalitis, typhoid fever, hepatitis A/B, Japanese encephalitis, tuberculosis and top ups of tetanus and diphtheria.
  3. Required – in some places in South America and Africa, the yellow fever vaccination and certificate is needed to enter the country. In Saudi Arabia, you must have proof of meningococcal meningitis immunisation administered at least ten days before if you are visiting during Umrah or Hajj. Polio is also now being officially monitored by border controls after outbreaks in Papua New Guinea.

Even if you have had a vaccination before, you may need a booster shot if you are travelling in an area where that infectious disease is known to exist.

Do I have to get the travel vaccinations?

By having the travel vaccination, you are protecting yourself from some nasty infectious diseases that could be fatal if contracted.

Pre-immunisation helps your body to fight off the bacteria or virus before you travel, and will help bolster your immune system by creating antibodies to fend off future attacks.

Vaccinations have successfully eliminated diseases such as smallpox. Immunisation strategies were responsible for saving 10 million lives between 2010-2015 according to the WHO.

However, vaccines are only effective if the majority of us are immunised, in what is referred to as ‘herd immunity.’ When you travel, you must be responsible and ensure that you are fully updated with your vaccinations to reduce any risks of spreading infection.

How much do travel vaccinations cost?

In the UK, some travel vaccinations may be covered by the NHS. If your clinic administers immunisations, the following are free:

  • polio (given as a combined shot of diphtheria, polio and tetanus)
  • typhoid
  • hepatitis A
  • cholera

Before you go, check your GP is signed up to provide NHS travel vaccines. If some are not covered, you can research the costs at your local travel health clinics. Prices tend to vary, so do your homework in advance.

Remember, some additional fees may apply if there are multiple doses required, or if you need a dated certificate of vaccination. It is worth budgeting extra to cover these costs, and allowing enough time to fit in appointments.

It is worth noting that some travel insurance policies will not cover medical expenses if you have neglected to have your travel vaccinations.

What else do I need to prepare?

Prevention is a good way of staying safe and not bringing home more than you bargained for. If you’re visiting an area with a high risk of malaria, it is sensible to invest in some non-DEET insect repellent. If you’re trekking, wearing longer layers and buying a mosquito net is advisable.

Washing your hands before eating is another way of reducing the risk of getting ill, and carrying a small bottle of alcohol disinfectant is an easy way to minimise the germs entering your system. Practicing good hygiene is important for staying fit and healthy while you’re away.

In some places, travellers are advised to only drink from bottled water or avoid street food, particularly meat and dairy products, where the chances of food poisoning may be higher. Pack Immodium in your first aid kit, along with some electrolyte packs to stay hydrated. In case your diet has the opposite effect, pop some laxative pills in there too.

In areas where waterborne diseases may be present, eating soft fruits or salad leaves may result in illness. It is sometimes sensible to only eat fruit that can be peeled to reduce the risks of consuming bacteria that your stomach won’t agree with.

In any place you go, whether travelling or not, it is always sensible to practice safe sex. Protect yourself from unwanted STIs by using condoms every time.

Useful links

For more information on travel vaccinations, please visit the following websites that maintain updated travel advice:

Please note, the travel advice here does not replace the updated and specific knowledge of your doctor or travel health specialist. See them for detailed advice about travel vaccinations before you travel.