Would you vaccinate on your travels, or take the risk?

I always did have a naïve approach to vaccinations. Whilst saving for the initial six month trip around the world, I realised I had not budgeted for them.

I always did have a naïve approach to vaccinations. Whilst saving for the initial six month trip around the world, I realised I had not budgeted for them. It came somewhat as a shock when the local doctors announced it would be over a hundred pounds just for one injection. I therefore got the bare minimum.

For those six months I was absolutely fine. I travelled through Africa and Asia without catching anything severe, I got the odd illness pre disposed with travelling but nothing alarming. The second time away, again, I was absolutely fine. But I did not go as far afield that time.

It was only summer 2011 that problems arose. Since my initial six month trip three years before I had not gone for a single booster jab. It was only a week before I was to embark on a lifetime trip to Nepal in monsoon season that I thought it best to call the local Doctor and get some antimalarial drugs.

These were not enough. Within five days of being in Nepal I became severely ill. I lost the majority of the antimalarial drugs on the bus from Kathmandu to Chitwan, a National Park in Southern Nepal. At the time I was not overly concerned as it was not a very long stay there. 

However, after leaving Chitwan and heading up to Pokhara, I became very ill. The heat was scorching yet I was freezing, everything in my body ached and I was too tired to move. I developed a rash that covered my entire body, which was extremely uncomfortable and aggravated by the monsoon heat. 

We ended up staying in Pokhara for ten days in order to get my strength up. I was hallucinating and constantly delirious. I tried my best to maintain focus but found that I was constantly dizzy. As a result I lost a stone in body weight in a week.

Somehow, I carried on with the trip and managed to trek to Annapurna Base Camp at 4145m safely forgoing dehydration, various degrees of altitude sickness and plain exhaustion. 

However, my condition worsened. After the trek we returned quickly back to England. 

It took doctors six weeks but eventually I was diagnosed with four tropical diseases: Scrub Typhus and Rickettsia, Giardia and Japanese Encephalitis. Scrub Typhus and Japanese Encephalitis were both potentially fatal.

I have now, fingers crossed, finished my various courses of antibiotics. Due to complications, it has now been seven months. If I can give any traveller advice it would be to do your research. Most of these diseases could have been prevented.

If I had of checked the purification tablets I was using I would have realised they did not treat Giardia which was prominent in the area we were trekking.

If I had of covered up my body at night I would not have encountered Scrub typhus or Rickettsia.

If I had paid the money I would have been immune from Japanese Encephalitis and I would not have put myself at such a horrendous risk.

It may seem like a lot of money at the time, but it is better to fork out and be safe. Travel insurance is void if you are not vaccinated, which could result in you having to fork out thousands in hospital bills. It is worth bearing in mind that antibiotics in England are not cheap; I have now paid over the amount I would have paid on the jab on antibiotics alone.

Travelling is incredible and well worth every penny. However, if you are to explore these incredible places, you have to understand that there are risks which can easily be prevented. My experience will not stop me from travelling the world and getting the most out of life. I have just realised that such huge risks are not worth taking.