In 2016, the World Health Organization declared Zika as a public emergency. It was prevalent all throughout Central America, or pretty much anywhere near the equator. I was interning abroad at the time, knowing the risks involved and stocking up on protective gear: repellent, long-sleeved clothes, mosquito net, and a portable fan. It was a huge battleground of these little vampire creatures.

Though it is very unlikely to prevent every mosquito bite, there are possible ways to greatly reduce the chance of it. Here are six techniques I would recommend if you’re traveling to an area full of mosquitoes.

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Stay active during daylight: When planning a trip, it’s a good idea to go somewhere where you move a lot in the day, like hiking or walking tours.  It may be ideal to go to less densely populated areas if possible. Part of my trip abroad included hiking to multiple homes in rural areas and jogging around a track during leisure time. I noticed from my activity that I never got a bite.

Wear clothes effectively: This may sound silly, but if you tuck pant sleeves under socks, you won’t get bites on those areas (since mosquitoes tend to first bite at the legs). It’s also a good idea to tuck your shirt inside pants and make sure there’s no holes or gaps.

Wear effective clothes: The color and material of the clothes you wear matter: Mosquitoes aren’t just attracted to the CO2 we breathe out, but also dark clothes. Additionally, mosquitoes have a harder time biting through clothes made of thick woven fabric. Its generally good to wear light colored clothes made of thick woven fabric like athletic wear. I found that denim jeans also worked MOST of the time.

Use the right repellant right!: Off! is in style when it comes to bug repellant. However, it has the chemical DEET in it, which can be toxic for you.

Lemon eucalyptus is a natural alternative without the toxic. However, eucalyptus could be less effective and last six hours at a time.

When using any repellant, it should be applied at least 6-8 inches from skin or clothing rather than directly. This can help reduce exposure to the toxic as well.

Bring a portable fan/flashlight: Using A/C in Nicaragua costed us $5 dollars by the hour, so we used all the fans available. Power outages were common though. So having a portable fan, as well as a flashlight, are good ideas. That should help blow the little pests away!

Use a Sans bug net and sleeping bag: While abroad, I had the classic mosquito net that hangs over the bed. They are quite a pain to setup and susceptible to tears.  And sometimes the net itself was not effective to keep from getting bites: I also had to snug tightly inside my sleeping bag, leaving no skin exposed.

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Thinking back, I wish that I had a Sans bugs net. They are expensive, yet I hear that they repel much better and doesn’t require as much effort!

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So just to recap, here are six tips I would recommend:

  1. Stay active before dusk and after dawn.
  2. Tuck your shirt and socks in pants.
  3. Wear light colored nylon or woven fabrics
  4. Bring a portable fan and flashlight
  5. Use the right repellant (and effectively).
  6. Use Sans bug net and snug sleeping bag.

References:

Clothing system for backpacking peak mosquito season

CNN: Zika Virus Public health Emergency

Entomology: Are Any Fabrics Able to Stop Mosquito Bites?

Image sources: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/71pWc%2B1xl3L._SL1500_.jpg

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