I receive emails almost every day asking me if I’ve gotten sick during my years of travel. The same question is whispered to me in person, too. I’ll be at a dinner or out for drinks and someone will introduce me as a long-term traveler and travel writer, to the confusion of the lawyers and careerists present. Inevitably, I get cornered later by at least one or two people furtively asking ”so did you ever, you know, get sick?” Oh yes, many times.

I understand why people would ask. Sickness and travel were a big preoccupation before I left. What if I was completely isolated and no one knew and then I died a horrible death in the middle of nowhere? What if I couldn’t speak the language and then managed to find myself at a doctor, unable to to tell them what’s wrong and then (all together now…) died a horrible death in the middle of nowhere? For what it’s worth, reading How to Shit Around the World and bringing a Point It Dictionary went a long way into making sure the “dying a horrible death in the middle of nowhere” didn’t happen.

That said, I was most lonely when I was sick. Time slows down; foggy with fever and fatigue it feels like a lifetime before you get better again. And since this is a question I get so often, I thought I’d share the fairly ridiculous laundry list of ailments and sicknesses from my travels.

Three Years of Sickness and Travel By the Numbers

1. Bronchitis in Punta Arenas.

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  • Jodi Ettenberg

    Born in Montreal, Canada, Jodi Ettenberg is a former new media and technology lawyer who quit her job after 5+ years of working…

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