Vaccinations Then and Now

Vaccination

Okay so I am Australian and I want to travel the world.  I live on, what is basically a large island we are well protected from the rest of the world’s diseases. We have very strict quarantine laws, we have safe drinking water and strong food safety laws. In recent years we have had some Ross River Fever and our Bats have a rabies/lyssaviruses, but on the whole we are a very safe country to travel in. Oh except for the venomous snakes (Australia has about 140 different land snake, and 32 water snakes. Around 100 are venomous, but the number that could actually kill you is only 12). Let’s not forget the spiders, giant crocodiles and perhaps the drop bears, but that is a whole different topic, today we are talking about vaccinations. Before I started to travel overseas in 2005 I went to the local travel Doctor and asked what I needed for Africa and this is what he said.

  1. Hepatitis A
    1. Hepatitis A vaccination is thought to provide lifelong immunity. Hepatitis A vaccination can be given alone or as a combination with Hepatitis B or Typhoid.
  2. Hepatitis B
    1. A completed course of vaccination is thought to confer life-long immunity.
  3. Cholera
    1. The oral cholera vaccine also provides some protection against one of the more common forms of traveler’s diarrhea. Normally the vaccine is taken in two doses 1-6 weeks apart.
  4. Typhoid Fever
    1.  A completed course of typhoid vaccination provides protection for up to three years.
  5. Yellow Fever
    1. The vaccination for yellow fever provides a high level of immunity for a period of ten years. The vaccination is usually quite safe but is unsuitable for a small number of individuals.
  6. Rabies
    1. Normally the vaccine is used before departure to provide immunity in the event of an animal bite.  Rabies vaccination provides effective protection against this serious illness. Normally the course requires three visits to our clinic within about one month.
  7. Influenza
    1. Although the vaccine only provides immunity for about one year it normally has very few side effects.
  8. Malaria –
    1. Malaria is an infection it is passed on via the bite of an infected mosquito. Travellers to tropical regions of Asia, Africa, and Central or South America are at risk. In malarial areas, avoid mosquito bites by wearing long, loose clothing, using insect repellents and avoiding outdoors at dusk and dawn. Anti-malaria tablets.
  9. Tetanus
    1. Protection against tetanus should be considered for all travelers and normally lasts about ten years.
  10. Meningococcal Meningitis
    1. The vaccine most commonly used for travelers protects against multiple strains of Meningitis and provides immunity for up to three years.
  11. HIV/AIDS
    1. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). There is no vaccine or cure for HIV or AIDS, but medication can manage HIV-related illnesses and AIDS.
  12. Japanese encephalitis vaccine
    1. This should be considered for travelers to affected regions of Asia.
  13. Bilharzia
    1. Bilharzia is a parasitic disease caused by worms that enter a person through the skin when they come into contact with contaminated fresh water. The parasites enter the skin, migrates through the body to the blood vessels of the lungs and liver. It advances to the veins around the bowel or bladder, lays eggs which can either be passed in the urine or faeces, or remain in the tissues in the human host in the liver or bladder.
  14. Giardia infection (Giardiasis)
    1. Giardiasis also known as gastro. It is caused by the parasite Giardia Lamblia. Giardiasis can be spread by contaminated drinking water. It can also be spread by faecal contamination of public water. Giardiasis can be treated with medications.
  15. Varicella (chicken pox)
    1. Vaccination of children against chickenpox not only prevents serious disease in childhood, but also ensures immunity in adolescence and adulthood, when complications from the disease can have severe outcomes.
  16. Dengue Fever
    1. Dengue fever is a viral disease spread by mosquitoes in tropical and subtropical regions. There is no specific medical treatment and no vaccine. The best way to protect against dengue fever is to avoid mosquito bites when in affected areas.
  17. Polio
    1. A single booster during adulthood is thought to result in lifelong immunity. Polio can be given alone or as part of a combination with other vaccines.
  18. Measles mumps and rubella
    1. An effective combination of these vaccines can be given as a single dose and it provides long-lasting immunity.
  19. Diphtheria
    1. Boosters are normally given as a combination with other vaccines in a single needle formulation.

Oh my God is he kidding, I know right, there is no way I am going to do all of that, but luckily for me here in Australia a lot of that has already been done in childhood or through work related vaccines. So we can tick off a possible 10 (the ones in bold) off that list straight away and some may not be relevant to the destination you are going to travel to for example my first trip away was Africa so I am not going to need Japanese encephalitis.

Interestingly the varicella vaccine is fairly recent to Australia so therefore I did not get vaccinated in childhood. This was one that my Doctor pushed quiet strongly and I argued with him that I was immune to it, as I had nursed all three of my children and not been infected. He insisted that I be tested and I was right I had a natural immunity.

I did not get the Rabies vaccination for my first two African visits but by the third time I was going overseas, this time to the Middle East I thought I had pushed my luck too far. Rabies if contracted WILL KILL YOU there is no cure once you show the first signs and symptoms.

My Doctor did not insist on the cholera vaccine so I did not question his judgment and Meningococcal vaccine is also fairly new and was not offered as strongly as others.

Malaria tablets are started as a course two weeks prior to your departure so you have an existing immunity and continued for two weeks after leaving the affected areas. I was taking Doxycycline which is the cheapest and most common daily administered medication for Malaria. On the second day in Africa when we are heading out of South Africa and into Mozambique I noticed this rash and I was scratching my skin off my arms and torso. I discuss my options with the driver of the truck, he offered to drop me at a Doctor clinic before we crossed the border (South Africa has a much more reliable medical system than Mozambique). I was quiet nervous when they dropped me on the side of the road in front of this building that looked more like a shack than a GP office, and then they drove away. I went inside as I had few other options, once inside it more or less looked like your typical doctors surgery. People waiting around reading magazines, children coughing and sneezing and the general look of impatience people get when they have been waiting for a long time.  The GP gave me some cream for the rash and some tablets for the itch and a new medication for the Malaria. He had all the require medications in his office so he was the Doctor and Pharmacist in one convenient location. That night we were heading to a beach party in a town called Vilankulo on the coast of Mozambique. All I will say at this point is you should always read the labels on your medication, especially the bit about mixing medication with alcohol, I was sick for days.

So when it came done to it I only really needed a couple of injections and some basic hygiene and mosquito protection oh and if I met that certain special person to practice safe sex.

So now here we are 10 years later and I need to revisit this list and see what is still current and which ones I will need to have done again. Oh joy wish me luck !

 

So where to ?

So today we are going to talk about Where!

This is an important question for many reasons firstly and importantly for me, it is about desire and then about cost. For some people it is cost first destination second not for me though. If it was totally about cost I would go to Asia first. However I have always wanted to go to South America and have a desire to learn Spanish. I have been trying to learn for years but without using it on a daily basis I forget it within weeks. I want to spend a year traveling through all the countries of SA. Then I am torn I would like to then continue up through Central America transvers through USA up to Canada and into Alaska. Here cost is an issue because I feel I should do one continent at a time. This way not having to spend extra money on expensive airfares. However that would mean one year in SA and then I think another year doing CA, USA, Canada and the Alaska. I would like to come home and visit the kids in between. My thinking is perhaps keep an eye out for great specials on airfare and flying home somewhere in between. This of course is making the assumption that I don’t get totally homesick within the first three months and come home back to reality.

Once I have completed this in whichever way the universe dictates in the end, I want to go to Nepal, India and Bhutan. The reason for this is, at this time I already have a holiday booked to go to Bhutan/India/Nepal with a tour company, this has been in the making for about six years. However I have recently decided to cancel this tour and go to Nepal solo and then take a tour through Bhutan from Kathmandu. The tour I have booked now will cost me roughly $10,000 for six weeks that much money traveling solo would last me almost a year in Nepal and India. It will still cost me a considerable amount to go into Bhutan from Nepal as the Government of Bhutan have a tourist cost of $220.00 per day per person, and you MUST go with a tour company you are not allowed into the country as a backpacker. They have a desire to keep their country just as it is and not let us riff raff spoil it (good for them). This will mean paying about $3000 as most tours go for around twelve days. This is considerably cheaper than $10,000 for 6 weeks. I will lose the deposit I have already put down but I think it is a fair exchange to save so much and travel so much longer.

I believe after that another trip home to recharge, maybe work for 3 months just to keep my registration up, make a bit of money see my children and grandchildren. Then I feel Africa may call me back again. I will always and forever continue to return to Africa. I believe that you either love it, or hate it, and once it gets into your blood you will never stop going or wanting to go. I have been to most countries on the East Coast of Africa. I have not been to any of the West Coast and I missed half of SA. I have also not gone farther north than Kenya and have not really done Kenya justice yet. I may spend a year catching the bits I have missed and watching as many sunset as I can during my stay. TIA.

African Sunset

Okay now things get a bit fuzzy, I am talking about 4 years on the road now and I believe money may be an issue. I am hoping to have enough to travel for 5 years without having to stop and work in a real job for too long.  I am happy to teach English voluntarily but do not want to commit to a 12 month contract at this point.  Go home and work for a year? Or get a job in China for a year, this is my thinking. I can get a job teaching English in China very easily with my degree and a TESOL course. I could take a 12 month contract and see the country on my days off, try to save for my next destination. If I choose well in the contract I accept, the money can be good and accommodation may be paid for. It is however a very real commitment with long hours. I can also look at working in Asian countries closer to home and then be able to come home for a few visits along the way. Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia are good places to get TESOL jobs these countries are very cheap to live as well.

If I make it to my 5 years on the road without having to take on TESOL jobs that will put me at retirement age at home and I will get my super policy which will give me another 5 years on the road traveling.

So off we go again, the plan now is Greece, Italy and Turkey spending considerable time in all (I know you say you have already been to Italy but…..) and then into Europe spend as long as possible touring all these amazing countries. This will have to be timed well though everyone knows how I feel about the cold if it’s too cold I won’t go. I am thinking that will chock up another couple of years.

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Okay so I think we have now hit 7 years’ worth of plans, I know that is ridiculous as plans cannot be very solid for that length of time. This is a rough guide and I realise it may and probably will change. However this is what I will always come back to, I may throw in trips to places like Myanmar or Brunei and let’s not forget Kazakhstan or Mongolia these are all places on my list or any of the other hundreds of places I wish to go.  There are arguably between 194-257 different countries in the world and I have only the rest of my life to see them all. Like I said so many places to see and so little time, I should have started sooner.

I have not even mentioned things like, I have always wanted to follow the Silk Road or follow the path Jesus took on his last days on earth. Let’s not forget the epic beginnings of the modern day Marathon a 26km race from Marathon to Athens or walk the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Warriors.  See where Dracula once resided or to see the modern day Harry Potter Castle “Alnwick” in Northumberland, I know dorky. Oh and to see Hadrian’s Wall or what about ‘Stone Henge” The Hebridies in Scotland, The Northern Lights, although that one may be a wee bit cold for me. I would like to consider doing the “Camino” in Spain, although while in Spain I have said I will never do a bull fight, also the Trans-Siberian Railway trip. I have not even gotten to Japan and Mount Fuji or I have heard that Komodo Island is absolutely amazing. Up to this point I have only seen 13 countries. If we go with the USA count of 194 I have 181 to go, I may have left it too late to start.

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The list is endless, I plan to try to see as many as I can before I die.

Free Accommodation While Travelling

Okay so today’s blog is about how I am actually going to do this.

Today we will look at my first priority, I want to travel without spending any money on accommodation, this may be an unrealistic expectation but it is what I want.

So with that in mind I started researching “travelling overseas without spending any money on accommodation”. You would be surprised at how many websites and blogs there are on this topic. They don’t all jump out at you in the first web search but they are there if you dig a little.  Well actually if you dig a lot, but the point is they are there for anyone to find. I will give you a bit of a rundown on the ones that I have found and how they each accommodate you (no pun intended).

World Packers was the first one I found and it was like I had discovered the meaning of life, I was so excited. I thought I was the only person who had made this amazing discovery and then when I dug a bit deeper, I realised I was the last person to find out. The concept of World Packer is, backpacker accommodation around the world that you can apply to work for your accommodation and sometimes a meal and laundry. There are many different ways to do this depending on your experience and time. Some want you to stay for a couple of weeks, some would be happy for you to stay a year.

The work ranges from bar work to front of house to cleaning with some entertaining and tour guiding thrown in for good measure. You may have experience but if you don’t some are happy to train you. Let’s face it though how hard is it to clean a few toilets and make a few beds, if it comes with fee accommodation.

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There is an annual fee that applies that gives you access to all the backpackers that are available. You can however look at all these backpacker’s opportunities, without paying the fee upfront so you can get an idea of what you are signing up for.

 

From there I found another one that is along similar lines Work Away is the same concept however it works with family’s,  individuals or organizations. It is aimed at budget travellers wishing to enhance language and or cultural learning.  It has obviously got different and varied opportunities for work from babysitting to teaching English and even farming.

Woofing is agreed upon work for your accommodation and usually meals, however this is only within the organic growers around the world. It is farm work and all that goes with that, animal husbandry, fencing and planting etc. However be aware that Woofing is set up within each individually country around the world. So if you plan on going to Germany for example don’t join the Australian Woofing website.  There is an international website for Woofing that will tell you every country involved in Woofing. http://wwoofinternational.org/

Then of course there is the tried and tested House Swapping and if you don’t have a house to swap like me House Sitting. Swapping is self-explanatory you swap your house for theirs for an agreed length of time. This may also give you a pet to look after and access to a car, depending on the owners situation.

Sitting is only different in that the owner is going away and you are going to stay in their home while they are off on holidays or whatever. Again there may be a furry friend to care for and a car to use. There are numerous websites and they all come with varying degrees of security checks and annual fees. My best advice is to trust in google, read reviews look for forums on each one. Ask your friends also they may have used some of these or know someone how has.

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The next couple of options cross over into two categories, accommodation and non-paid /paid work. These are Crewing a Boat and Au Pair work, so let’s start with Boat crewing there is a Mooloolaba website that you can find a boat looking for crew members to travel from point A to point B. There are also boat crew needed to do day tripping work in a constant location. Obviously if you are traveling from point A to point B the accommodation comes with the job. It is agreed on application if you are paid for the hours you work or if you are a non-paid workers or even if you are to share in the costs of the trip. On the website they will tell you how long they wish you to stay with the crew, the destination, what kind of boat it is and if you need any experience and a few other housekeeping bits, there is of course the annual fee.

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Au Pair work is caring for someone else’s children while they are either at home or away at work. You usually live in the family home and have agreed upon days and hours of work, sometimes with an on-call option or date night option for the parents. This job is usually reserved for 18-30 year old ladies, however that is not always the case and sometimes gender is not an issue. Experience is preferred but again not always essential. There is usually a small wage that goes with this position but you must remember it is only small. You will not save much money doing this, but it will stop you from spending your own existing savings. Meals usually come with the position, you essentially become a member of the family for the length of your stay. There are numerous website covering this one, there are even some agencies dedicated to getting you work.

Lastly I am going to buy a very lightweight tent that I can use in an emergency situation when I run out of options, for whatever reason. I will try what is called wild camping which is free, tucked away from prying eyes camping. Or will stay at free camp sites when possible or if pushed will pay for a sight.

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At this point I will point out that I have not used any of these websites and have not joined any of them yet. That is something that I will wait and do closer to the time of my departure. Then I will choose which and when to join them at appropriate times. There is not point spending money for example on Boat Crewing if I don’t intend to do it in the next 12 months.

So this is the Beginning

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Hello my name is Tammy Mahon I am a 50 something year old single woman and I am embarking on an adventure. This is just the beginning, I am planning to Follow the Sun for as long and far as I can. I am going to save every penny I can over the next two years and I am going to buy a plane ticket and I am going to fly far away from my hum drum life.

I am very scared about this whole idea, but I am going to take the bull by the horns and see what happens.  The worst case scenario is I don’t enjoy the solo life or I run out of money or ????? If that happens I will come home with my tail between my legs and get a job and start again. I will however come back with a lot of new stories to tell and hopefully a new group of friends to add to my friends list.

This is not an easy decision to make as you can probably imagine. I have just started on a new career in Nursing at the ripe old age of 50, so I will be giving up a well paid full time position to run away. Some people will think I am crazy, others will applaud my decision and wish they could come with me.

My reasons for doing this are vague I am not sure why I have decided this is a good decision. I am finding I am not as satisfied with my career as I thought I would be, so I have fallen back on my only real passion- Travel.

I was a late comer to travel my first overseas trip was only back in 2005, I have always travelled with tour companies. Albeit overland tour companies, so no real luxuries when I travel, its usually a tent and a camp chair. It does have the comfort of being organised with a driver and a tour guide so this is the scary part for me.

So this is the beginning over the next two years YES I will be saving like a tight you know what. I will however be doing lots of other stuff as well, this blog is one of them. I am not that savvy with technology but I am venturing forth to try to learn. I will be also doing a TESOL course so that I can teach English to Speakers of Other Languages. I am also going to do a Front of house course, and perhaps a bar course. Any other ideas you can think of please feel free to suggest to me.  Oh and of course I will continue to TRY to learn Spanish.

That’s right I have decided that South America will be my first port of call. At this stage it is all by the seat of my pants, There is No Real Plan. That will happen over the next two years, with research, research, research. I am spending multiply hours in front of my new little computer at the moment. Looking at other peoples blogs, researching accommodation ideas, transport, airfare options. The list is huge and I am feeling quiet confused and sometimes feel like the room is spinning. It will all come together. I will share my ideas and thoughts over the next two years, and then while I am away you can perhaps “Follow the Sun” with me. Share in my adventures and my disappointments, learn with me as I journey around the world.

I have time.