A weekly ode to the joys of moaning about your holiday.
"Just be careful you don't talk about poohs and wees too much, I feel that's generally what you write about." These were the words of warning from a mate of mine not long after the Travel Bugs column first began in the Herald early last year. A fellow writer, he was concerned I was developing a reputation.
"I hardly ever write about poohs and wees!" was my response, though a quick look back over the initial two months of columns did reveal yarns about being poohed on by pigeons in London, an enthusiastic train farter in India, and the most spectacular bout of food poisoning known to mankind in Myanmar. There may also have been a tale about a toddler who had a catastrophic whoopsie in the pool at the now-closed Club Med in Australia's Whitsundays (the whoopsie wasn't a major player in the resort's ultimate demise, so my sources tell me).
So yes, I write about bowel issues from time to time in Travel Bugs, but if the purpose of this column is to celebrate "the joys of moaning about your holiday", ignoring said issues would deprive me of a lot of material. So with all of that in mind, here's an attempt at a slightly more mature take on what some may regard as juvenile subject matter. The specific topic? What to do if you get diarrhoea on holiday.
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Two words: activated charcoal. First off, if you're heading anywhere overseas — even the most plush resort in the richest country on the planet — I recommend having a medical kit just in case something goes wrong. As to what should be in that kit, I don't set foot in a departure lounge without having packed a medicine like Loperamide. This is what you swallow if you're in the kind of territory of needing to board a train or a bus in India and you've just had your sixth increasingly flamboyant trip to the bathroom in the past 90 minutes. I'm no doctor, but personal experience tells me that one pill is enough to get you on the straight and narrow again. Two and you run the risk of constipation.
Ah yes, constipation. A surprisingly frequent travel companion to diarrhoea, a large number of travellers to Asia will swing between these two extremes until their guts get used to the new digestive adventures they're partaking in. Which brings us to the activated charcoal. It's not uncommon when overseas to have a slightly shaky belly but not shaky enough to warrant medication and the opposite threat of being bunged up for days. If this is the case, swallow anywhere from one to five charcoal pills before bed and chances are you'll wake with a settled tummy.
If the problem is more serious, then you can up the ante with medication, but you don't want to do that willy-nilly. And then, whatever the scale of buttock discomfort, make sure you've got some electrolyte sachets in your kit (I recommend Enerlyte). These are also a great non-alarmist preventative as well as cure for diarrhoea, especially if dehydration is the issue.
I'm not sure if this more public service announcement-style of a Travel Bugs entry is more entertaining than stories like that of the chubby businessman on the overnight train in India, who was farting with such unembarrassed fervour as to be an antihero, but I've given it my best shot. Irrespective, trust me about the charcoal.
Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB's Weekend Collective and writes the music and travel blog RoxboroghReport.com