Backpacking with Dr. Jos

"I haven't met any tent sluts yet. Vermin, on the other hand!"


Dr. Jos: Travelling is an activity that makes you sick more often than not, but if you go backpacking, health problems are almost guaranteed.

In my opinion, backpacking guarantees a holiday close to nature.
Dr. Jos: A holiday close to Dutchmen, yeah. Come on, be honest: who goes camping? Old people, hippie chicks and drunk Dutchmen.

And tent sluts!
Dr. Jos: To be honest, I haven't met those yet. I'd think you'd rather find those at rock festival campsites. Filthy places, rock festival campsites, but that's another story. So, backpacking. What did you say? Close to nature? Bullshit, my friend. If you really want to respect nature, stay out of it. Stay on the beaten track! Do you know how long the local eco system needs to recuperate after one night of wild backpacking by just two people? (shows a scientific paper on his laptop) It's been researched: three years. Three full years! Not bad for an ecological footprint, don't you think?

Yeah, that's kind of surprising.
Dr. Jos: (nods) While you'll have to look long and far to find tent sluts, on your camping holiday you'll easily meet the local vermin: ticks, mosquitos, fleas, scorpions, spiders, lice, mites, flies... Most of these are after a drop of your blood. Not a big problem in itself, but their bites and stings transfer all kinds of filth. Say ticks. You won't find them in a clean hotel room, but as a backpacker, you'll have to pluck them off your skin several times.

Ticks are notorious vectors of Lyme disease.
Dr. Jos:
Yeah, Lyme is a notorious tick-borne disease, and rightly so, but that's not all. Ticks carry a vast collection of germs. Ehrlichiosis, rickettsiosis, babesiosis... all kinds of garbage you don't want in your body. In Central Europe, you can even catch tick-borne encephalitis, a very nice way to spice up your camping trip in Austria or Switzerland. (browses on his laptop) And all that while you could just sip cocktails at a hotel bar carrying an all-in bracelet around your wrist. (grins) Hey, check this out: 'gemütliches Familienhotel mit Bierstube'. Wouldn't that be something for me? Germany, they have good beer over there. How much is this joke? What's 'price' in German, Van Caesbroeck? 'Urlaub'?

No, 'Urlaub' just means 'holiday'. 'Preise', I think.
Dr. Jos:
'Preise'... (mouse click) Obviously, hygiene is a big problem in backpackers. Bad water supply causing diarrhoea, mould in moist sleeping bags, problems with plant allergies, food that's being kept at the wrong temperature, shitting in the wild, no washing facilities... All this makes a backpacker a potential victim of the worst diseases in the country he's travelling in. Every single year, backpackers are rushed to the hospital with third world diseases such as malaria and even lepra. (leans back contently) Ah, found it! Two hundred euros a night, full board, half price for my kid. (takes his credit card out of the pocket of his lab coat) Sold!

You won't be backpacking, I suppose?
Dr. Jos:
Hell no! What's wrong with a sturdy suitcase on wheels? A backpack makes your back ache, or worse. The straps constrict veins and nerves, risking thrombose and nerve damage. Watch it: these risks are not related to the weight of your backpack. A light pack on a day walk is enough to cause trouble.

Any more frightening camping stories?
Dr. Jos:
Thunder and lighting! Lightning strikes on tents, camp fires that turn into forest fires, gas stoves that suck the oxygen from tents, so backpackers get CO-intoxicated... In short, if you want to get sick or injured on your travels, be sure to go backpacking. I've warned you, so don't even think of calling me while I'm having half a litre of beer in the Bierstube!