When you’re traveling abroad, mosquito bites are always a concern. Dengue and malaria have been on travelers’ radars for a while, but the recent and widespread outbreak of the Zika virus understandably has increased this worry. Not all of these insect-transmitted diseases can be prevented or treated with a vaccine or medicine, making frequent mosquito repellent use a necessity this summer. But, sometimes buying mosquito repellent when you’re traveling abroad proves to be a much more difficult task than anticipated.
"Most people traveling abroad are not thinking about mosquito repellent, but they really should be," Manny Castro, co-founder of Zika Shield, a company that makes all natural mosquito repellent products, told PR Web. "There’s no accounting for what types of repellent will be available where you are going, or if they are safe."
Packing numerous cans or bottles of bug spray isn’t always doable, especially if you’re only traveling with a carry on. Thankfully there are ways to find effective protection abroad, but it’ll probably cost more than it would in the United States.
Research beforehand will definitely save you time, because how easy or difficult it will be to buy mosquito repellent will completely depend on the country you plan on traveling to. Some countries have their own brands of repellent, some countries import foreign brands, like OFF! and Repel, and sometimes you just won't know until you get there.
But, if you’re not familiar with the brand you see in shops and can't find a recognizable brand, try to looking for right insect repellent. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that travelers make sure the active ingredient in their repellent uses DEET, which has been proven to be one of the most effective chemical to prevent mosquito and tick bites. It's also one of the most common ingredients used worldwide.
According to the EPA, "DEET is designed for direct application to people’s skin to repel insects. Rather than killing them, DEET works by making it hard for these biting bugs to smell us."
If you can't find DEET or prefer to use different ingredient, other effective active ingredients include Picaridin and IR 3535. For a natural ingredient look for oil of lemon eucalyptus.
Where to actually buy the insect repellent? Again, it will depend on where you're traveling. But, most countries' supermarket or pharmacy chains should carry it. That's where research will be helpful. For example, pharmacies like Watsons and Boots are located throughout Thailand and they carry both Thai and foreign brands of bug spray, which tend to be more than twice the price of local brands.
But, if you're going somewhere very remote where it's a possibility that there won't be a shop nearby, travelers should stock up during a layover in a big city on their way there. If that slips your mind, always feel free to ask the locals where to buy it.
If you like to plan ahead and don’t want to worry about whether or not you’ll be able to buy the right kind of bug spray abroad, another option is to buy an ample supply of insect repellent wipes that contain DEET or another active ingredient, as it’s not a liquid it’s not restricted as a hazardous material and isn’t subject to size or quantity limits.
Or, simply check a bag and pack as many cans and bottles of insect repellent that you think you might need.
Buying mosquito repellent abroad can be very difficult, but as long as you are prepared and have done your research there are certainly ways to get your hands on some. Using an insect repellent is one of the best ways you can protect yourself from Zika and other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, so make sure to pack and plan accordingly to ensure you have a fun and stress-free trip.