When hitchhiking specific health issues can occur. The most dangerous thing is when your driver is involved in an car accident. Therefore it is a good idea to find a driver who is not drunk, not sleepy and is not going too fast. Also read the safety article.
Depending on the country you are travelling in, specific immunizations can be required. Inform yourself before heading to foreign countries. Some immunizations can make sense anyway (even if you are not hitchhiking).
Most sicknesses, especially diarrhoea, can be prevented with a good hygiene.
If you are not sure about the water situation in a foreign (especially in a poor) country, then don't drink water from the tap. Only drink bottled water or cook, disinfect or filter the water before use. Also for brushing teeth and doing the dishes use only drinking water.
It is important to cook, peal or disinfect food. Don't let flies or insects come to your food. Before eating, wash your hands with soap. Wash your hands as often as possible, but always after the use of a toilet. Try to use disposable towels.
As it is an unwritten law for the honourable hitchhiker: Avoid stinking! It's obvious that you won't be able to take full showers every morning when travelling on an extreme budget (i.e., hitchhiking coupled with wild camping for the night), but even just wetting and rinsing your underarms with soapy water at every opportunity you can get (a fountain with no one around) is surprisingly refreshing and considerably cuts body odour.
A health insurance for foreign countries can safe you a lot of trouble. Consider a health insurance which includes a transport back home in an emergency case.
Drugs and Alcohol
Don't drink alcohol or consume drugs while hitchhiking.
- Diesel fumes and other vapors from fuel, especially at gas stations.
- Dust, in desert areas and alongside many roads.
- Smoke from the cigarettes your drivers smoke. This is negligible if you smoke yourself of course, though it's also harder to quit smoking when you hitchhike a lot.
- Sunstrokes can occur if one can't take shelter in the shades.
- Through sweating your body looses water and minerals. It's a good idea to drink a lot of water to compensate for dehydration. Don't forget to restore your mineral levels, too. Always keep in mind to obtain some water while in town centres in summers and especially when traversing arid territory, though, as good hitchhiking spots usually tend to be in the middle of nowhere and you really cannot know when that sweet, air-conditioned car to arrive.
Also don't overestimate these issues. Truck drivers have to deal with diesel fumes most of the time. trash:Health