Travel Rx – And New Zealand’s Pesky Sandflies

Disclaimer #1: The following is based on my own experience, and should not be considered medical advice.

Disclaimer #2: I am not being paid to promote any of these products.

Whenever I travel, regardless of the distance, there are two items that I always pack: Listerine (original version) and Oil of Oregano.

Listerine Anything Is Possible Travel - Travel Rx I use the Listerine for it’s intended purpose (mouthwash) as well as a topical astringent. I have also found that if I have been bitten by a mosquito (or sandfly; see below), applying a dab of Listerine on the bite greatly reduces the itch.

The small bottle meets TSA requirements. I only use Original version, and I don’t substitute a generic brand.

Oil of Oregano

Anything Is Possible Travel - Travel Rx Years ago a Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner told me about the use of Oil of Oregano in preventing colds or lessening their duration.

At the first indication of a scratchy throat, sniffles or a cough I pull out my bottle of Oil of Oregano and measure out five or six drops, which I put under my tongue – and then chase it with a large glass of water. I do this morning and night (and afternoon, too, if my instinct says it’s needed), and the cold symptoms are forestalled or quickly disappear.

Oil of Oregano can be purchased at health food stores. (As you can see, my bottle is well-traveled and the label is no longer legible.)

(Note: While people with MS are advised not to use echinacea due to their compromised immune system, Oil of Oregano does not seem to have the same adverse effect and Carrieanna uses it quite successfully. Please use your own good judgment before self-prescribing.)

New Zealand Travel

In addition to Listerine and Oil of Oregano, there are two other items I found to be essential during my trip to New Zealand: Sunscreen and, if you will be visiting Fiordland on the South Island, insect repellant.

Sunscreen

New Zealand’s clear, unpolluted atmosphere and relatively low latitudes produce sunlight stronger than much of Europe or North America. So hats and sun block are essential for anyone planning to be in the sun for more than 15-20 minutes at a time.

And, quite frankly, I wanted to spend a lot of time in the sun; the country was just too beautiful to justify staying inside. Even though I hate wearing hats, I generally put one on when I went outside. And I liberally used my 30 SPF sunscreen.

Insect Repellant

Sandflies.

Those nasty biting creatures that can greatly diminish your enjoyment of Fiordland National Park – the southwestern area of the South Island wherein lie Doubtful and Milford Sounds, and the hiking trails that make this area the “Walking Capital of the World.”

One Maori legend says that when the god Tu Te Rakiwhanoa finished creating the landscape of Fiordland, it was so stunning that people stopped working and, instead, just stood around gazing at the beauty. The goddess of the underworld, Te Hinenuitepo, became angry with these unproductive people so she created the sandfly to bite them and get them moving again.

According to another version, Te Hinenuitepo looked at the beauty of the land and said, “It’s so beautiful, people will want to live here forever. I will create the sandfly to remind them of their frailty and death.”

Explorer James Cook called the sandfly a “most mischievous animal.” (A bit of an understatement!)
Anything Is Possible Travel - Travel Rx Soon after entering Fiordland our group stopped at the Haast Visitor Center, where I thumbed through a reference copy of  “Those Sandflies,” a humorous and informative little book by Marjorie Orr (1996).

I jotted down a few helpful recommendations to share with my fellow travelers:

  • They bite from dawn to dusk, but not at night, and they usually won’t bite wet skin.
  • Apply insect repellant liberally; don’t miss any parts (except lips and eyes).
  • Cover up, and wear light-colored clothing (white, yellow, grey and green), as they tend to be attracted to black, blue and red.
  • Shower; they are attracted to a sweaty smell.
  • Eat garlic; apparently that’s one smell they don’t like!
  • If bitten, try not to scratch. (Good luck with that!)
  • The itch is generally a temporary reaction, and sandflies do not transmit diseases.

And here’s the best piece of advice:

  • Purchase a bottle of good quality whiskey.
  • Rub liberally on arms and legs.
  • Dust sand on skin whilst still wet with whiskey.
  • The sandflies come along, get drunk and throw rocks at each other!

Not wanting to waste good whiskey, I knew that I would need to find an alternative, and more effective, repellant.  Hoping to avoid the more toxic remedies, I decided to use what the locals recommended: Okarito Sandfly Repellent, a DEET-free blend of Citronella Oil and Sweet Almond Oil. Anything Is Possible Travel - Travel Rx It was a good decision. I was rarely bitten and when I was, a little dab of Listerine quickly soothed the itch.

Share Your Tips

Are there any must-have travel aids or remedies that you swear by? If so, I’d love to hear about them. Feel free to leave a comment and share your tips!