Chills, diarrhoea, vomiting, sweating, body aches – all the symptoms endured by Judith Matloff during an attack of malaria. The author reminds us that mosquito-borne diseases include not only malaria, but dengue fever, Zika, West Nile fever, yellow fever, Chikungunya and encephalitis. In short, they are a bigger killer than wars raging around the world and ‘even if you don’t expire, you’ll suffer one of the worst bouts of headache, fever, joint pain and nausea in your life’.
In a lifetime of reporting from some of the world’s most perilous countries Matloff, who lectures at Columbia Journalism School, has pioneered safety training for members of the media in numerous countries. She has put together this useful and entertaining compilation of survival tactics, designed to deal with the hazards of daily living and travelling.
The book abounds with survival tips for situations one hopes never to confront. Are you travelling with carry-on baggage to a country in conflict? Take only what you can run with. Once at your hotel, never ask for your room key in front of suspicious-looking people, or if you do, speak in a low voice that can only be heard by the receptionist. Surely the most intriguing piece of advice must be never to forget condoms, but not for the obvious reason. ‘Condoms make great containers for water,’ we learn, ‘and keep supplies like blister bandages dry.’
The book covers almost any unwelcome eventuality a traveller abroad might encounter, be it street violence, a live shooter, emergency first aid, a terrorist attack, or the emotional fallout from an upsetting event. ‘No matter what you’re up against,’ says Matloff, ‘the guiding principles are the same: to build selfconfidence so that you’re not at the mercy of in-the-moment reactions and fear.’