Salt Gypsy recently had a brush with both dengue and typhoid fevers so we thought it highly pertinent to share some info with you as we gear up for another surf season in the tropics…



The Biggie. Over the years we have used for our international travel insurance. Having been recently and unexpectedly hospitalised with illness, it was a relief knowing we would be covered, with no need to worry about the expense. You can extend your policy with World Nomads while you`re on the road and we have had positive experiences with this company so highly recommend.

When buying your insurance – CHECK OUT THE WORDING! Ensure your policy will cover your extreme sports (World Nomads has different packages depending on what you`ll get up to).


Also highly recommended pre-travel is vaccination against a myriad of tropical diseases. Check with your local/family doctor or traveller`s clinic and see what you may need for where you are headed. I was vaccinated against typhoid in 2010 so technically am still under the 3 year cover (must have been a particularly nasty strain that entered my system!) and was given a travel “passport” that records all my vaccinations, dates taken, how long they last etc. Bless the NZ health system!


You may not know this about Salt Gypsy but I actually have a congenital heart arrhythmia that can cause sudden death. Bit of a mouthful and you wouldn`t know anything was ‘wrong’ just by looking at me – I am otherwise fit and healthy! But it is imperative that I travel with a Doctor`s Certificate explaining my condition and the medication I take just in case. I also wear a medic alert bracelet that states my condition. As was the case recently after being diagnosed with dengue and typhoid, I had to show my list of Medications To Avoid several times to several different doctors and nurses. My boyfriend is educated on all the documentation I carry with me, also in the case of emergency. These are what speak in absence of my consciousness so I cannot stress enough the importance of being prepared – especially if you travel with a particular health or medical condition.

Other recommended documentation:

Passport copies – (and several signed by a Justice of the Peace)

Passport photos

Travel Insurance Policy and copies

Vaccination documents

Qualifications (University degree, certificates etc – you never know who might be keen on employing you while you travel!)



Again, if you can stock up on good quality sunscreen and zinc prior to departure, this will save you a world of sunburn. In our experience, buying suncreens locally can be hit or miss so don`t risk it – if you are in the sun a lot, invest in a big tub (or several tubes) of 50+SPF.

If you`re Down Under, we rate product by NZ Cancer Society, Australian Cancer Council, Sun Sense, Vertra, Surfers Skin NZ


Easy enough to buy a store-bought kit from the supermarket or pharmacy then pack it with your own DIY extras.

Possible extras to include:

Rescue Remedy


Comfrey ointment (excellent for broken bones and sprains)

Chinese herbal heat patches (these are intense deep heat and awesome for chronic tight shoulders/neck/back muscles. These can be easily purchased in any pharmacies in Indonesia)

Betadine (antiseptic liquid and/or cream)

Antiseptic powder **this is really good for reef cuts and helps dry out cuts if you`re in the water a lot

Insect repellent (we prefer natural citronella oil-based ones but sometimes hardcore deet is what you need – depends how remote you`re going)

Ear plugs

Aqua Ear drops (for swimmer`s/surfer`s ear)

Face mask

Antibiotics (general antibiotics you can pick up a prescription from your family doc)

*We`d love to know any tips and advice you would like to contribute so please feel free to leave a comment below!


  1. Sara McKay

    Thank you girl!!! This was and is so useful!!! Lets figure out when we can have our Skype date.
    Sara from Chica surf :))

  2. Adele Clayton

    I would recommend “hard core Deet or some such” as those Aedes Mosquitoes are deadly and you cant muck around with citronella when one bite can be extremely nasty, Love mum!

  3. Adele Clayton

    Oh also another thing, tucked in with all that info is contact details of family and friends so that the hospital can let people know if you are suddenly taken ill or injured, particularly if you are unconscious. And always keep your cell phone charged 🙂

  4. Lacey W

    wow. good advice. I’ve always wondered about these sorts of things as I haven’t done a TON of surf travel but want to do more. thanks for dispelling some knowledge about this. MUCH APPRECIATED. I hope you are doing well at this point?

    • Hi Lacey, much better thankyou! A lot of it is common sense but also trial and error over the years and from sharing information with fellow surf travellers. Stoked we`ve helped inspire you to surf more exotic locations! See you in the lineup one day 🙂

  5. I always take Grapefruit Seed Extract & Tea Tree Oil in my first aid kit. I keep all my docs (scans of passports, insurance, flights) in a DropBox online that my family & friends can access. Oh, and this book pretty much saved my man’s life about 6 years ago…..super useful stuff inside !

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