The thought of a tick burying its way into your skin is enough to set most people’s teeth on edge, but the danger of tick bites goes beyond grossing us all out. Ticks spread germs that can be extremely harmful and can spread illnesses like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. If you’re not careful, one bite can turn your whole world upside down.
Thankfully, there are a number of fool-proof ways to protect yourself against tick bites while traveling. Most of these come down to common sense, organization and doing a little planning before you leave for your trip.
10 Know Which Countries Carry A High Risk For Tick Bites
Some countries just have a higher risk of tick bites, and it’s useful to know which ones are the most dangerous. That’s not to say that you can’t visit places where there are a high number of reported tick bites or cases of Lyme disease. But it’s common sense to familiarize yourself with these locations and take extra precaution when visiting them.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that the risk of Lyme disease is “focused in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, and upper Midwest, with pockets of lower risk along the West Coast.”
9 Pack A Repellant
If your trip is going to involve anything remotely outdoorsy, you should always remember to pack a repellant with you. Whether you’re hiking in the forest or just hanging out in a city park, it never hurts to be prepared with repellant.
Smarter Travel advises travelers to use a repellent containing 20 to 30 percent DEET, which is the most active ingredient in most insect repellants. If that’s not available, look for a repellant that’s 20 percent Picaridin, which is another strong defense against ticks. Also, remember to follow the manufacturer’s directions when it comes to reapplying.
8 Pack Appropriate Clothes For Outdoor Activities
Wearing the appropriate clothing when doing activities like hiking and camping might not be the coolest thing to do, but it’s worth sacrificing some likes on the gram in order to properly protect yourself against potential tick bites. Choose long-sleeved shirts and pants made from breathable fabrics, and tuck pants into socks.
It’s also a good idea to pack clothes that are light or neutral colors. This way, if there are any ticks on your clothes, you’ll be able to spot them before they make their way to your skin.
7 Invest In Permethrin-Treated Gear
When traveling to a destination that carries a particularly high risk for tick bites, it might be necessary to invest in clothes that have been treated with permethrin. This insecticide kills bugs immediately on contact and is another line of defense that could end up saving you from being bitten and contracting disease.
The other option is to cover your own clothes and equipment (including tents and boots) with products containing .5 percent permethrin. This will require a little extra research and organization before you leave, but it will be worth it.
6 Don’t Venture Into Overgrown Grass Or Bushes
Sometimes a location can be so beautiful that it’s tempting to abandon the trail and explore the rugged landscape in all its splendor, especially if you’ve been wanting to visit this place all your life. But think twice before venturing into overgrown grass or bushes, as this is the easiest way to come into contact with ticks.
Where you can, stick to the trail and avoid brushing up against trees, grass and tall bushes. It’s also a good idea to avoid sitting on fallen logs, leaning on rock walls and stomping directly into leaf litter and piles of wood.
5 Always Be Prepared When Traveling During Peak Times
Just like there are certain locations that are more dangerous than others when it comes to tick bites, there are also particular times of the year when you have a higher chance of catching tick-borne diseases. According to a preventative guide compiled by Travel & Leisure, deer tick nymphs (the most commonly infected tick) are born between May and July.
The guide warns that the majority of people who are infected with Lyme disease are bitten during this spring/summer period. Of course, you don’t have to sit out travel during this popular time—just be prepared!
4 Follow The Aftercare Steps To Avoid Bites
Avoiding tick bites comes down to both preventative measures that you take before going outside, and also aftercare steps that need to be done afterward. Sometimes ticks can stay on clothes or equipment before they get to your skin, so it’s important to eliminate the risk straight away.
Within two hours of being outside, take a shower to help wash away any possible ticks. Check everyone you’re traveling with for ticks and put all your dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for at least 10 minutes to kill any bugs.
3 When Outdoors, Stay In The Sun
Tick nymphs can’t survive in environments with lower than 80 percent humidity for longer than eight hours, so you’re less likely to be bitten in warm, dry places. They tend to gather in shady, humid places, such as leaf piles. Simply staying in the sun when you’re outdoors is an effective way of reducing your chances of being bitten.
Too much sun exposure while traveling can have other consequences, though, such as sunburn and heatstroke. Reduce these risks by wearing sunscreen, staying hydrated and, when possible, avoiding going outside in the afternoon during summer.
2 Be Vigilant With Sunscreen
Sunscreen is important when it comes to protecting your skin from the sun, but you want to make sure it doesn’t deactivate your repellent. Always make sure that you’re putting your sunscreen on before you put on the repellent, so the repellent is still effective.
It’s best to rub in the sunscreen and wait for it to absorb properly into the skin, and then apply the repellent on the top. A small detail like this will ensure that you’re protected both from the harsh rays of the sun and the threat of tick bites.
1 Avoid Hotels That Allow Pets
Hotels that allow pets sound like the best thing in the world if you’re an animal lover. But these can be a breeding ground for ticks and other pests. Dogs can easily pick up ticks on their fur and then transfer them to the furniture in a hotel room. These may then not be noticed by cleaning staff.
Most people don’t expect to find ticks in their hotel rooms, and so they don’t take all the preventative measures. So if there are ticks in the room, they are totally exposed and vulnerable.