Taking You Higher: What to Know About High Altitude
While white sandy beaches make for a great vacation, some of the world’s most beautiful places exist at high altitudes. The Mayo Clinic classifies high altitude as a destination over 4,921 feet. Vacation destinations such as Machu Picchu, Peru (8,000 feet), and Lhasa, Tibet (12,000 feet) soar way above that mark, so you need to take the proper precautions to avoid getting altitude sickness.
What is altitude sickness?
Altitude sickness can impact anyone traveling from one altitude to a significantly higher one faster than their body can adapt to the lower barometric pressure and reduced oxygen levels. Symptoms are often described as mimicking an alcohol hangover: headache, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. Mild cases can be treated with over-the-counter painkillers or anti-inflammatories, but rare severe reactions can include swelling of the brain and lungs, requiring an immediate descent to lower ground.
Preventing altitude-related symptoms
Don’t let altitude sickness ruin your vacation! Instead, follow these tips to help minimize your risk:
The absolute best way to prevent altitude sickness is to make your ascent slow and gradual. A general rule recommended by the CDC is that for every 3,300 feet you ascend, try to spend one day without going up any further. If a gradual ascent is not possible, like if you are planning to spend some time in Aspen, CO and you are coming from Los Angeles, CA, consider allowing a few days in Denver to acclimate before completing your trip. Once you are over 8,000 feet, you should move up no more than 1,000 feet per day.
Long plane flights or car rides have a dehydrating effect on most people, and dehydration can actually decrease your body’s ability to acclimate. To prepare your body, drink 2-3 liters of water per day before you travel and keep a 1 liter water bottle with you during your journey, filling up as often as possible. It’s also a good idea to cut down on caffeine and alcohol until your body adjusts.
Take it easy
Due to the body’s decreased ability to take in oxygen at high altitudes, take it slow the first few days. After you have acclimated, you can gradually build up your activity levels, but don’t push it too hard.
Since it takes the body longer to digest food at higher altitudes, watching your portion sizes is not a bad idea. Heavy meals late in the day will simply slow you down and increase your feeling of fatigue. Consider eating a hearty breakfast, snacking throughout the day, and eating a lighter dinner.
Be prepared with medication
If aspirin just isn’t helping you find relief from the symptoms of altitude sickness, then there are some prescription drugs you can take to help the body adjust. Natural supplements like ginger or ginkgo biloba may also help. For more information on altitude sickness medication, visit Travel Vaccines and Wellness Solutions and talk to our experienced team!
Have a backup plan
If you start feeling sick during your morning hike in the mountains, then your best bet is to head back down to lower ground and relax until the symptoms subside. If descending is not an available option, then make sure to sit down, rest, drink lots of water, and eat something until you feel better.
Best Organizations for Volunteering Abroad
Want to make a difference and see the world at the same time? Well, you’re in luck, because you are not alone! There are a ton of volunteering organizations that offer amazing opportunities to go abroad and utilize your talents to impact lives. Whether you want to get your hands dirty by promoting environmental conservation in Nepal or teach math and conversational English to school children in Africa, here are some of the best organizations to help turn your dreams into reality.
The Peace Corps
Dedicated to serving others, the Peace Corps accepts volunteers from all backgrounds that are ready to help change lives. With almost 7,000 volunteers currently serving in over 60 countries around the world, the Peace Corps has the resources and connections you need to sharpen your skills in a field you love or tackle a new challenge. The Peace Corps offers a variety of programs that span 3 months – 2 years and focusing on projects in:
- Community Economic Development
- Youth Development
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is an excellent choice for recent graduates, master’s or doctoral candidates, or young professionals that have great ideas for research projects in other countries! If your grant proposal is accepted, then you will meet, work, live with, and learn from the people of the host nation. This direct interaction will help you gain an appreciation of their culture and way of life and promote a mutual understanding between you and your hosts.
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)
If promoting healthy living is your passion, then why not show your support for the organic movement by plunging into an international network of like-minded individuals and sharing your love of sustainable living with other cultures? WWOOF is a cultural exchange that involves organic growers and farmers in more than 120 countries around the world who are willing to offer food, accommodations, and the opportunity to learn about a new way of life in exchange for your help with the daily chores.
Global Vision International
GVI is an award-winning organization that provides volunteer opportunities in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America, and North America. Projects range from animal care to construction to education and can last anywhere from one week to one year. This company places a great deal of emphasis on volunteer safety, which makes it very appealing to first-time international volunteers.
Whether your hometown congregation is looking to volunteer abroad or you want to participate in a mission trip, there are a variety of online resources to help you find the perfect fit. Organizations like Global Ministries offer group trips, mission opportunities, volunteer opportunities, and study or travel opportunities to help you see the world and potentially change someone’s life. You can also check out your local church, synagogue, mosque, or temple to find out more information on upcoming mission or volunteer trips.
Volunteering abroad can be an exciting and life-changing experience! If you would like to learn more, speak with the friendly team at Travel Vaccines and Wellness Solutions or stop by one of our three locations today!