Jane Wilson-Howarth


Staying Healthy When You Travel

Publisher: Fox Chapel
Author: Dr. Jane Wilson-Howarth
Page count: 320
RRP: £16.99 / $19.99
ISBN: 978-1620083789
A fully updated 6th edition will be published in December 2023 as Staying Healthy When You Travel: Avoiding Bugs, Bites, Bellyaches, and More. There will also be a hardback and ab ebook.
5th edition 2009 ISBN : 978-1860114243 The Essential Guide to Travel Health : Don't let Bugs Bites & Bowels Spoil Your Trip
4th edition 2006 ISBN : 978-1860113321  Bugs Bites & Bowels : The Essential Guide to Travel Health
3rd edition 2002 ISBN : 978-1860118685  Bugs Bites & Bowels
2nd edition 1999 ISBN : 978-1860119149  Travel Health : Bugs Bites & Bowels (Mini Pocket Edition)
1st edition 1995 ISBN : 978-1860110450  Healthy Travel : Bugs Bites & Bowels (Cadogan)
The new paperback edition launched in December 2023 and is available in paperback and in electronic format and - for the first time - it will also be out in hardback priced at £22.99 / $32.99 with this ISBN 978-1620084328

This is probably the only comprehensive single-author travel health manual in print in English. It is based on my 35 years experience as a practising doctor in three continents, as well as the wisdom acquired as mother, intrepid traveller, widely published author and frequent lecturer. I trust you'll find the book readable, accessible, helpful, exhaustive, empowering - with advice on all aspects of travelling including:

  •     what to expect
  •     pre-trip vaccinations
  •     culture shock and mood problems
  •     treating Montezuma’s Revenge
  •     using squat toilets
  •     the hazards of heat and sun in deserts and jungles
  •     of cold and exposure in mountains and caves
  •     the latest on malaria
  •     precautions when self-treating and hazards of counterfeit medicines
  •     deep vein thrombosis aka “economy class syndrome”
  •     families with children
  •     advice for the elderly
  •     tips for people with epilepsy and diabetes
  •     usefulness of natural remedies
  •     responsible tourism : a feature unique among travel health guides
  •     travelling for medical (or dental) treatment
  •     tables to match disease to country
  •     skin infections
  •     the risks of sunburn and avalanche
  •     the psychological effects of becoming an expatriate
  •     how to treat bites and stings
  •     information on accidents, first aid, common and not-so-common ailments
  •     what to do if travellers get home and need treatment.

There are numerous case histories to learn from and plenty of summary boxes and tables. This manual is invaluable on any trip, be it a drive to a local beach or a trek through the jungle or to high altitude.


The original idea for the book came from Laura Fleminger who was then a literary agent with Peters Fraser & Dunlop in London. Way back in 1993, she heard me talk at a symposium on expedition health at the Royal Geographical Society in Kensington. Laura convinced me that I should write an antidote to the professorial style of the only other guide at the time, Travellers Health, which was multi-authored. So, with some trepidation at setting up in competition with a host of academics, professors and consultants, I began work on my first comprehensive health guide for use in remote regions. By then, I had acted as medical officer on expeditions to the Himalayan region, Madagascar (twice) and Peru and had lived in several remote corners of rural Asia (Ladakh, Sri Lanka, Sindh, Baluchistan, Indonesia), so I had some experience and knowledge of coping with exotic health problems and limited facilities. And I was used to improvising.

Soon after meeting Laura, and while our sons were still small, we went to live on an island in the Karnali River, Nepal where there was no electricity. It was perfect place to hone my expertise in improvisation. Here too I had the luxury of uninterrupted writing time. I also saw a great deal that convinced me of the power of health information; my interest in health education grew. I recognised the dearth of readable information to help people avoid ill-health in remote places and settled down to enjoy the challenge of writing on the subject. It took me about 18 months to complete the book.

My Essential Guide was first published simultaneously by Cadogan in the UK and Globe Pequot in the US in 1995 as Bugs Bites & Bowels. It has to date sold over 40,000 copies. The fifth edition had the slightly cumbersome title The Essential Guide to Travel Health: don't let Bugs Bites & Bowels spoil your trip.

The publisher of this guide was originally London-based but has been bought and sold several times. For a while they had a head office in Australia, and they've and moved back and forth and back and forth again across the Atlantic. Now, with new publisher, Pennsylvania-based Fox Chapel, this guide is launched as physical book and an e-book.


Travel is risky. Even venturing out for a meal in your home town carries a risk of road accident, suffering food poisoning or encountering a mad gunman. As more and more of us are travelling to exotic places – for both business and pleasure – we naturally wonder how much greater the risks become when we are away from home.

What is the commonest plague to hit travellers? Do you know how to treat it? What is the most common cause of death in travellers abroad? This book answers these and other questions you may have, and many more you will not have contemplated. Like how you avoid flesh maggots, how to remove a tick from your scrotum, what to do in a squat toilet and why women should travel with a femidom. Equally, it details ways of dealing with all the little biters that join you on that balmy Mediterranean evening or even by a Scottish lough.


(from page 109; 6th edition)
When in resource-poor regions it makes good sense to boil milk before drinking it, even if it is supposedly pasteurized. I’ve found wood shavings and buffalo hair in “hygienic” milk. Throughout the Indian subcontinent, milk is usually safe because it has been boiled, but do check. Unboiled milk (and/or the water used to adulterate it) can give you TB, TBE, brucellosis, listeria, Q-fever, salmonella, typhoid, paratyphoid, and polio, as well as other forms of dysentery and diarrhea. Horse and donkey milks are probably less risky than raw cow’s milk and travelers may wish to try reindeer, moose, llama or alpaca milk but boiling is still recommended before consuming any of these. Camel milk has been implicated in cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (which has a 36% mortality rate) but again boiling will render it safe.

Dangerous Sea Fish
(from page 175; 5th edition)
About 100 species of fish can administer dangerous stings, and a selection (barracuda, moray and conger eels, garfish, groupers and sharks) can inflict severe bites. Fish stings are common, and there are around 1500 stingray stings and about 300 scorpionfish stings a year in the USA alone. However, fatalities from fish stings are rare, and so are deaths from shark attacks.

(from page 130; 4th edition)
Giardia are elegant heart-shaped microbes that swim around the small intestine propelled by two splendid whiskers. Infection upsets the stomach and causes sulphurous, foul-smelling belches and farts, abdominal distension and often diarrhoea.

Giardia infection is probably the most over-diagnosed, inappropriately treated travellers’ ailment; if you think you have it get a stool check before rushing to take a course of antibiotics, and/or try 24 hours on clear fluids and a bland, fat-free diet. Other microbes cause similar symptoms, and untreated giardiasis does little harm except make you an unwelcome guest. One fairly specific symptom is passing stools that stink, float and are difficult to flush away (there are other causes of this, so if the treatment appears to fail, find a doctor). The parasite causing giardiasis is Giardia lamblia.

Ease and Relief
(from page 83; 5th edition)
Lavatories can be a challenge for less nimble travellers. In many public facilities with pedestal lavatories, there may be no seat. Consequently, one needs to be able to hover over the pan, a trick that may be difficult for older travellers or those with hip disease or knee pain. Some remote places or budget destinations may only offer squat toilets. If you can’t squat to relieve yourself, limber up or re-book; alternatively, women might invest in a Whizzy, an ingenious foldable, disposable, gutter-like device that allows you to pee standing. The British alternative is the Shewee. These are also good for the squeamish who want to keep clear of less-than-salubrious lavatories. Another solution is the disposable Mini Potti urinal. Never restrict the amount of fluid you take in to reduce the amount you need to pee and do not miss out on taking prescribed ‘water tablets’ when travelling. Both strategies can be harmful.
Case history: Cave Rescues
(from page 286; 5th edition)
When I lived in the south-west of England I spent a lot of time underground. I enjoyed caving and also researched the ecology of blind, cave-adapted animals in the limestones of Devon and Somerset. I served as a cave rescue warden too.
The call-outs were mostly to inexperienced people who had ventured into a cave or abandoned tin mine with ordinary battery-operated torches / flashlights. They didn’t realise that these lights fail after only an hour or so. These rescues got me thinking about how truly difficult it would be to navigate through a cave I knew well without a light.
My zoological investigations meant that I visited my underground research site at least twice a week. The cave I was studying had one entrance with a loop of low passage and boulder-strewn corridor comprising just 320 feet (less than 100m) in absolute darkness. I experimented with trying to move, lightless, through my familiar cave and time after time managed to progress only a metre or two before ending up in a blind alley.
Even knowing this small cave well, I realised that if my light failed, I’d be incapable of finding my way out. In absolute darkness, however, the tiniest light can save you. One chap found his way out of a small cave in Somerset - by the light of a cigarette. Even better would be to carry emergency lighting; the glow stick variety are convenient.


  • This new updated essential travel advice book is even better than anticipated! "Staying Healthy When You Travel" is a bible of advice for me as a GP interested in travel. The bibliography alone is worth its weight in gold. Jane Wilson-Howarth, the author, is so experienced and knowledgable, and yet her words are easily understood and engaging. There is no sugarcoating of travel risks, yet it does not put you off. It empowers and enables adventurers which is a wonderful thing. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
    R C Rimell

  • An authoritative tome condensing years of medical and travelling experience into a comprehensive reference. This new edition is beautifully presented with colourful infographics, innumerable tables (matching disease to country), case histories to learn from and cute line drawings so you can distinguish friend from foe among the creatures you might find crawling over you. It is a must have for the library of any tropical traveller or expat.

  • Staying Healthy When You Travel is essential reading before you go to exotic or remote places. Full of advice on how to avoid medical problems abroad - and what to to if you don’t avoid them. And lots of interesting anecdotes on how things can go unexpectedly wrong.
    Dr Mark

  • Covers insect bite treatments, acclimatization, AIDS avoidance, snake-bite treatment and travel-related skin problems. 
    Los Angeles Times

  • Essential reading
    Marie Claire

  • Indispensable…some of the most realistic, practical advice about trekking 
    Independent on Sunday

  • This book, being physically fit and properly insured will go a long way to ensuring a safe return home.
    The Independent

  • Interesting off-beat guide
    The Observer, London

  • What the traveler needs is an inexpensive, easy-to-use, convenient health guide. This book is it. Small enough to fit in a pocket on your pack, it's so cheap you can afford an extra copy as a gift for your doctor. Best of all, this paperback covers nearly everything you need to know to prevent or treat—at least initially—90% of the diseases you are apt to encounter on a trip through South and Central America.
    The South American Explorer

  • “at once attractive, user friendly and a good read.”
    Discovery – Cathay Pacific

  • its bedside manner is decidedly more reassuring and less alarmist [than the Lonely Planet guide]
    Sunday Telegraph book of the week

  • The sensible precautionary advice covering common and uncommon ailments is not only thorough, but also made more palatable by the case histories and touches of humour.
    The Book Seller

  • Well researched, backed up with many experts bringing personal accounts into it in text boxes which keeps it interesting. Would be great for a family moving abroad for the first time as a go to book for any travel health concerns.
    Dr G Rutter

  • Make room in your luggage for this life-saving guide
    Your London Wedding

  • Coverage is excellent…sensible…accurate and well researched…single authorship makes it an easy read
    Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

  • with tips on avoiding afflictions such as ‘sahib’s knee’ when mountain walking.
    Australian Gourmet Traveller

  • The most amazing collection of well-written, easy to read, and jargon-free information flowing off every page of this book. The travellers bible.
    Doctor newspaper

  • There is even a section on ‘Sex and the Single expat’. An extremely useful book.
    Good Book Guide

  • This clear concise manual explains how to avoid the icky side effects of travel
    Best Title Award from Big World Magazine (Pennsylvania)

  • “offers practical advice for disease prevention and treatment, based on the author’s and travellers’ personal experiences in a clear and concise way.”
    Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

  • "I really enjoy your style that, though complete, encompassing and detailed, is fun and light hearted. It was a truly enjoyable read."
    Paul Milton of http://meetplango.com

  • “Whilst her theoretical knowledge is extensive, it is her personal experience that adds great charisma and humour to the very informative text, making the book a true pleasure to read.”
    Travel Wise: newsletter of the British Travel Health Association

  • “clear, easy to read, comprehensive manual… everything from jet lag to the psychological problems of being a long-term expat spouse.”
    Carousel: diplomatic service families association magazine

  • “magnificent book… readable and accessible” 
    Expeditioner (Brathay Expeditions)

  • It offers useful advice to protect your family's health at home and abroad. 
    Independent on Sunday

  • I have used this book for several years of personal travel, it provides excellent advice and gives a good, balanced view of what the real risks are while travelling in far flung parts of the world. It is a great reference and will tell you when to panic and when things really are fine and you don't need to worry. It covers all the travel health issues that you may encounter (and many more), is well written and easy to read, not a stuffy old textbook on health. I recommend anyone planning to travel to get a copy, read it and take it with them.

  • This little book is now at the top of my packing list along with 'passport' and 'tickets'. It is written with a calm, common sense approach and with a layout that makes it easy to find information in a bit of a panic. If your youngster is off on a Gap Year they may not thank you for giving them something so practical and heavy to take along with them as a book (and this one is not exactly heavy). Buy it anyway and stuff it in their rucksack when they're not looking. It'll give them a chance to avoid the avoidable nasties and will give them a giggle as they read some of the anecdotes when they discover that the TV in Laos is not up to much! While you're at it, get a copy for yourselves, it's an oddly fun read for a book about bugs, beasties and illness.

  • This book is a must-have for anyone going to exotic places. It is clearly written and comprehensive, with sensible advice on all the major hazards. It is particularly useful on when you need to get medical help, and when you can manage yourself, with plenty of guidance on safe travel for babies, children and older people. Best of all, after reading it, you still want to travel!
    Annie Kent

  • “irresistible… Each topic is in easy-to-follow sections, with anecdotes and case histories to illustrate the medical guidelines.”
    Globe (London)

  • “the most approachable guide” Simon Calder in the Complete Guide to Travel Health.
    The Independent

  • “Endlessly Fascinating. Even if you’re not going to be travelling in remote places, this book is wonderful. Jane Wilson-Howarth’s no nonsense (and funny) tone makes this book an excellent read, even if it’s just for the vicarious thrill of knowing which parasites you might encounter.
    Wilson’s [no relation] Disease Reviews

  • “a must for anyone going travelling.”

  • “advice…from immunisation to dealing with snake-bites."
    General Practitioner

  • “Amusing and informative…By far the best book of this type” 
    Sesame: Scientific Exploration Society Newsletter

  • Where to buy

    The fifth edition is still available from online bookshops including

    Amazon UK | Amazon US | Blackwells bookshop

    Also in the UK through Grantham Book Services phone 01476 541080 quoting the ISBN number