Ethiopia to Cape Town 2013-2014
8 months - with Gitane - Toyota Hiace 4x4 van


This article is far from exhaustive. It is imperative to contact a travel health clinic or your doctor before you leave. Get this process underway a few months before your departure, some vaccination shots can be spread over several weeks. Some of the following information only applies to Quebec residents.

Health Insurance in Quebec

In Quebec, all residents are covered by the health insurance plan provided you are not outside the province for more than 183 days (about 6 months) between January and December in a given year. In order to travel several months, it is important to calculate the number of days spent outside Quebec.

If you are not covered by health insurance in your province, you cannot buy conventional travel insurance. The latter is only a supplementary insurance covering extra costs not covered by the provincial insurance. In such a case an expatriate insurance is required. Please note that for any given year, in which you are not covered, you will have to pay all costs for services in a hospital and all drugs bought in a pharmacy. If you leave from June to December, all purchases made between January and June of that year won't be covered anymore.

In Quebec, it is possible to get a once-every-7-years exception during which the health insurance plan will still cover you. Throughout this full year (from January to December), you may buy a supplementary health insurance.

Using the once-every-7-years exception, it is possible to travel for 2 years while being covered by the provincial plan. Here is how to achieve these 2 consecutive years:

1st year — leave after July 3rd (less than 183 days)
2nd year — get your once-every-7-years exception (full year)
3rd year — come back before June 30th (less than 183 days)

Supplementary Insurance

Supplementary insurance is the one everybody knows about. It offers an additional protection for costs not covered by the provincial health insurance plan (ex.: repatriation costs). Costs for this type of insurance is around 350 $ for 6 months.

Please note that for a once-every-7-years exception year, you can get a supplementary insurance. However, online tools do not always allow it. In such a case, contact an insurance agent directly.

Expatriate Insurance

This insurance is necessary if you are not covered by the provincial health insurance plan. It covers, generally, all hospital fees, the return trip if you must be treated at home, and repatriation costs in case of death.

These insurances are very good, but much more expensive than a supplementary insurance. Costs rise quickly with your age and are around 1000 $ if you are below 30, 1500 $ in the forties, 2500 $ in the fifties and a lot more above the fifties. Please note that for these prices, insurance won't cover you for the USA and a few other countries where hospital costs are excessively high. In such a case, the insurance cost is much higher.


Vaccines are important. Please contact a travel health clinic. You may need to get the following vaccines:

diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus
yellow fever
typhoid fever
Japanese encephalitis

If you have already travelled, you may have received some vaccines. Some are effective for 3 to 10 years, even for life.


No vaccine exists against. However, some drugs are available to help prevent the disease by killing the parasite when it is still in your blood. Malaria is a disease of the liver from a parasite travelling in your blood.

Many persons don't like taking drugs and some travellers choose not to take anything against malaria. For these people, avoiding mosquito bites seems to be enough. Europeans, in particular, have a tendency not to take any preventive drugs and do shock treatment if they suspect they have the symptoms. Personally, I prefer taking preventive drugs. I don't have any intolerance to this medication, therefore the choice is easier.

Don't forget that malaria cannot be cured and if you get it, it may be with you for the rest of your life. In fact, some forms of the disease are chronic and can cause fever episodes (and other problems) over the course of your lifetime. For me, the choice is simple...


All the vaccines, malaria and other illnesses described here may scare you. However, for most travellers, the only problem is related to digestion (diarrhea, gastroenteritis, pains and strange stomach noises). In general, the main enemy for travellers is water and to a lesser extent, food.

It is important to select an adequate water purification method. Several methods and products exist for water treatment; iodine, chlorine tablets or filters with an extremely fine porosity. Each method has strength and weakness.

For a trip in Africa, I have chosen two methods; Pristine (chlorine liquid) and a filter. Pristine will be used for dubious water and filters for tap or well water. Filters are much less expensive for a trip of several months because they can filter hundred litres more than with the Pristine method (or any other tablet).