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Publié le 15/12/2014, by : Jean Révé

Surf Traveller Survival Kit

Guide and important health tips for your next surf trip

Between the moment you browse on the web dreaming about our next surf trip and the harsh reality that we often meet on site, it is necessary to take your preparation seriously. Establish at first the content of your medical kit, but especially when you spend several weeks in a country with questionable sanitary condtions, go see your doctor and make a full point with him on this trip.

Some go for a 3 months trip on uncharted shores of the Solomon Islands, others feel they already have enough trips to their credit and have forged their opinion on the subject, but if, more modestly, you just think about potential hazards that you may encounter, read this article written to help you during the different phases of your surf trip, learn the rules to be observed as a surfer and a serious and discerning traveler.


Photo : Credit Jeff Divine


1 / The medical "survival" kit

The ideal is not to have to use it, but knowing that it is handy if needed.
First check if your place of residence is close from a decent hospital, clinic or health center. If you are lodging in the same place during your stay, it will avoid you to carry a walking pharmacy.
The rule is to act quickly, not to underestimate the complications, even a cut on the reef, and have a general kit with broad spectrum. You'll divide the preparation of the kit into 2 lots between hand luggage and suitcase, not to lose everything, and if you go on a boat trip, choose a waterproof bag release.

The External part - Everything related to skin (cuts, irritations, burns, bites ...)

Drops for eyes and ears, pods of saline water, gauze, bandage, water resistant bandages and hydroactives, adhesive sutures (Steri-strips), disinfectant, compresses, arnica balm, aqueous gel for hands, wet wipes, tablets to disinfect drinking water, anti itch cream, tiger balm (for small hits and headache, massage),  after sun milk, a large tube of Biafine, condoms (NF).
Bring also an unbreakable thermometer, a brace cloth / velcro (easy to bring). Depending on your distance from a serious hospital : paraphernalia of sutures and needles + light local anesthetic bulbs and broad-spectrum antibiotic (you can ask to use it if the clinic seems dirty).
Ssmall scissors, tweezers, nail clippers, needle (for bulbs and spines), Swiss Army knife, a small mirror, a mini LED flashlight or headlamp.
Warning, think about putting sharp or metal objects in your loaded baggage, prohibited in the cabin.




The Internal Part Drugs, Pills & Tablets

Anti-diarrhea tablets, rehydration solution sachets and gastric dressing (Smecta), paracetamol syrup (practice because water not needed), antihistamines (against itching, allergies), anti nausea, throat lozenges, mouthwash (beware aircon )
Avoid suppositories traveling, you would have surprises ...
- Warning : In some countries, two-thirds of drugs in circulation are counterfeit. Do not buy unless it is really necessary.
Keep a copy of the order of your personal medications, to provide the hospital if necessary.
Remember to remove all the products from their packaging and keep recording them in a special place. You'll earn four times more space !
Give the list to your pharmacist at least one week before departure. He may even include tubes, transport bottles with own entry dosage.
Check the import laws of certain drugs.




Your smart outfit :
A soft cotton hat covering the neck, 1 or 2 caps, 2 pairs of sunglasses (with soft neoprene attachment), a tank tops, lycra, flip flops, sandals (easy to buy on the local market). 2 or 3 old boardshorts to give to your local surf buddies will be nice.

Your bride's trousseau...
Depending on where you go on honeymoon with your board, or single, without board : 5 tropical wax, a quick repair kit, a leash, fins kit, surf slippers, a helmet, a surfing hat.




Bzzzz ...

Anopheles, Culex, Aedes, Chikingunya ! These filthy creatures may rot your life day and night, even interrupt your trip in case of disease transmitted by the bite. Check if the area is affected by malaria or dengue fever (another damn mosquito that will bring severe fever for 10 days or more ).
Adapt your chimioprophylaxiq treatment depending on the zone.

Country group I - area without chloroquine : Chloroquine (Nivaquine®)
Country group II - chloroquine area: chloroquine-proguanil (Savarine®)
Country Group III - high prevalence area chloroquine or multidrug : Mefloquine (Lariam®250) and Erythromycin (Doxypalu®) Serve as an alternative or in case of intolerance or cons-indication to mefloquine (frequent disorders are. fever, dizziness, nausea ...)
There is a form of treatment called "presumptive". The médicine is Halfan, which is used differently. Keep it with you and use only in case of emergency or suspected malaria (fever) : 2 tablets, and 2 other 6-8 hours later then 2 other 6-8 h to end treatment.

Ask the prescription of appropriate treatment with your doctor before departure.
Most of the time, it should start before departure and to be continue one week after the return (unfortunately many people do not continue treatment, thinking they're back to "civilization")






Prevention :

- Use "Coilers" small turnstiles that burn as incense sticks. Outdoor efficient repellent under the table or on the furniture.
- Citronella spray or cream. effective maximum 20 minutes ...
- Eucalyptus (spray or others). Protection of 2 hours. Convenient for children.
- Bayrepel, contains piperidine. Quite effective mosquito repellent
- Bracelets, garlic, vitamin B1, iPhone app... gadgets without efficiency (spend a night of monsoon in Indo, you will understand)
- Wear protective clothing, especially in the evening. Do not sleep outside in the hammock...
- Do not open the windows in the evening. Switch on the air conditioning before dinner, cut it when you return for the night. Just plug the ceiling fan.
- Do not wear perfume, the mosquito is smart and he loves it.
- Wash your hair frequently
- Do not burn scented candles in the room, it is toxic to lungs, mosquitoes are just attracted bt the flame.
- Remove and empty all objects or containers with water (bowl, plate ...). These are spawning zones.
- Do not keep in your room used plastic bottles, cans or plastic bags. They are also spawning areas.




Injuries related to Surf ...


The most common injury due to impact with your board, that of another surfer, your gopro camera mounted on the nose of the board or hitting rocks, coral at the bottom of the ocean.

- If the wound is not too deep, apply a clean linen on the wound to stop the bleeding. Do not use cotton balls, the fibers would hang in the wound.
- Rinse with clear water. If possible clean with soap and water. No alcoholic solutions - disinfectant are good but they destroy the tissue around the wound, slowing healing and promoting bacteria.
- If you see something in the wound, do not try to remove it, find the nearest medical help. - Even with small wound, go as soon as possible to a medical center.
- Usually in less than 12 hours after the sutures, you will see if the wound is stabilizing or worsens.
- In case of significant injury that would require a transfusion, refuse as much as possible any blood injection unless absolutely urgent. Most tropical countries don't have blood banks or serieous blood bags checking for transfusion (hepatitis, HIV).
- Avoid local traditions like sea urchin juice, urine, lemon and other nonsense. Remember that coral is a living element that will live under your skin and create an infection, if not well cleaned.
- Coral cuts are like the cat scratches, painful and slow to heal.





Wipe out during take off, a board hit on your head or a violent hit in shallow water.

- If you could get to the edge, do not be manipulated by another surfer, except a doctor. Some of cervical movement can be fatal. - If it is a muscle or ligament tear, apply the RICE treatment : Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

- In case of fracture and as first aid on the beach, carry the wounded surfer in the shade under the trees. You can make a brace with branches - I even saw a newspaper used as rope or compression to block the broken limb (of course, join the medical center as fast).
If the fracture is open, gently clean the sand with clear water all around the wound and call emergency
- In case of broken nose (common in surfing), apply ice quickly just on the nose, not the face.
- If you get a broken tooth, quickly take an anti-inflammatory, rinse mouth with clean water and get medical center to stop the infection. You will end the prosthesis care in Europe.
- In case of shock on the ear or eardrum perforation, prevent water entering the ear, superinfection source that can sometimes lead to meningitis. Provide appropriate medical treatment (ear drops and / or antibiotics).
Normally healing is spontaneous, but quickly consult an audiologist in europe to assess the risk of operation.
- For prevention, depending spots, wear a helmet, install a nose-guard in front of the board. You'll also be protecting your eyes ...


Itches, Stings

In water and on land, a small invisible army will rot your life and your journey ...
Basic precaution, do not walk barefoot outside of the beach. Although it looks more "roots" as a surfer, you may expose yourself to many hassles. Never sit on the floor, especially in wetlands. Every little wound underfoot accumulate all dust, bacteria and parasites. Besides insects, caterpillars, spiders and other bugs walking on it.

Sand Fleas : You'll get itches weeks after return. Do not scratch, risk of infection.

Irritation of boardshorts and those caused by rowing on the boards, micro stinging algae : Symptoms appear within a few hours. Buttons, red patches on the body, irritations in the groin and under the arms and repeated contact of the wax on the board, and your body can further promote infection.
Rinse with clean water, apply talcum powder out of the water. Vaseline during surfing session (if there is no wound).
Parasites : Only swim in the clear sea water or fresh water cascades, never bathe in stagnant water like mangroves, brackish lagoon, even near the sea, avoid areas where birds are living, their droppings pollute water. Schistosomiasis is a severe parasitic infection caused by worms found in fresh water. The larvae enter the body through the skin or by ingesting water. Sometimes you'll also find viruses like hepatitis A and E.
Moreover, so may also get ear infections. Do not put your head under the water to reduce the risk of ingestion.



- If you wear contacts, never use tap water to rinse. When traveling, always clean your lenses with antiseptic solutions and avoid swimming in fresh water, you'll risk to catch an amoeba causing serious damage to the cornea of your eye.
- If you are allergic to pollen or dust, limit the inhalation, breath through a wet handkerchief or place cotton (not packed) into your nostrils or buy a mask.
- If you are allergic to certain foods, bring along photos of these foods. This will allow you to show them to make you understand by someone who speaks the local language and translate the food name.
Before leaving, your doctor may also practice skin tests to detect exotic foods you are allergic to (spices, papaya, mango).
- Avoid tattoos and piercings workshops (including ear piercing), barbers, acupuncture and other local rites using non or poorly sterilized instruments.




The master Traveller's rule is to listen only to your instinct, but also the opinion of other surfers on the spot, if seasoned travelers. Before your health or that of your travel companion is deteriorating, consult a doctor asap.
If the dispensary or hospital seems inadequate or has total lack of hygiene, call as soon as possible your travel insurance that will decide what action to take.
It is imperative to take out a solid Travel insurance, not just your credit card insurrance, which often does not cover everything.
- Finally, when back home, monitor your condition and report any discrepancies to your doctor (fevers, urine, gastric disorders) that could aggravate.

Of course, do not be a hypochondriac surfer, and enjoy your trip and spend good time in waves.
After several Trips, you know the aches and worries that affect you and are vigilant on these aspects so that your surf vacation will be safe.

Have a good Surf Trip to the Waves !


About the author
Jean Révé

Jean Révé

Working for several years in tourism in France and abroad, Jean-Hervé Cristol (aka Jean Révé) also has a large number of kilometer mark traveling around Planet Surf  in search of endless summer waves.
In 2004 he created Destination Surf, the first agency specialized in Surf Travel , then Endless Summer a blog with tips, info and travel stories, in order to enjoy and share this rewarding experience with all surf travelers. → Learn more

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