Mosquito Prevention Tips for Backpackers (in Southeast Asia)

Last updated: March 28th, 2018

I can't remember what life was like pre-mosquito obsession.

If there was once a point in time where I wasn't constantly scratching, worrying, and applying bug spray, the I've forgotten that life. 

On one hand, mosquitos are scary because they potentially carry diseases, but on the other hand.... they are just annoying as f#@$! 

Here are some tips I have collected in my 6 weeks of fighting the great war between travelers and mosquitos. 

Good luck, use 50% deet, and may the odds be ever in your favor. 

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MOSQUITO PREVENTION TIPS FOR BACKPACKERS AND TRAVELERS: 

PUT ON BUG SPRAY AFTER SUNSCREEN

Bug spray is more effective when it is applied over sunscreen, not under. 

Remember: Sunscreen, then deet spray. Sun, then deet.

S, then d. SD... like your memory card. 

1. BRING MOSQUITO PREVENTION CANDLES

Citronella Tealight Candles don't take up much room in your bag, but are a GAME CHANGER when you want to hang outside in the evening. Not only do they add a great ambience (duh, they are candles), but they also stop mosquitos from terrorizing a casual evening hangout.

2. WEAR HIPPIE PANTS AT NIGHT

What is the official name for these pants? Harem pants? Elephant pants?  Everything sounds a smidge offensive.  Anyways, I am referring to the patterned, lightweight pants that are allllllll over Southeast Asia.  

The best way to avoid getting bitten by bugs is to just cover your skin.  After sunset, I always put on long pants to cover my legs.  Yes, some ninja mosquitos can still get through the fabric, but it is much better than wearing shorts. 

3. PUT BUG SPRAY ON YOUR FEET     

The feet are a neglected area when it comes to bug spray, and yet they are the most consistently exposed area of skin. Everybody in Southeast Asia wears sandals. The feet are a big target and no one remembers to put on bug spray on their feet. Let me save you from learning this lesson the hard way - put bug spray on your feet. 

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4. USE DEET WIPES AND KEEP THEM EVERYWHERE

I use Ben's Mosquito Repellent Wipes. You should bring some, but they shouldn't be your only form of bug spray. One is supposed to "cover the entire body," but they don't.

I like the convenience. I can keep a deet wipe anywhere (in my backpack, purse, or behind my phone case), and always have bug spray.

5. WEAR SOCKS WHILE SLEEPING

Because feet are the most vulnerable area of the body for mosquito attack, I started wearing socks to bed.

Is it comfortable? No. Do I hate it? Yes.  However, am I being bitten on my feet anymore? No. 

6. TIGER BALM FOR BITES 

I am obsessed with Tiger Balm and will certainly be bringing a lifetime supply back to the states with me. If you haven't started using Tiger Balm while traveling in Southeast Asia.... what are you waiting for?

One of the best uses of tiger balm is putting it on but bites so they stop itching. They make the bite tingle and eventually take away the itch. This is so you don't scratch and give yourself nasty scars, or a skin infection, à la me.

Tiger Balm also apparently repels mosquitos, but I only use it if I have nothing else.

7. BE CAREFUL WHEN APPLYING TO FACE

Some people say that mosquitos don't bite faces... well, I can tell you that it only took one night of sleeping outside for me to prove that wrong.  

I always apply deet right onto my face, haters be damned.  If you decide to do this as well, be extra careful.  Do not put on too much, avoid eyes and lips, and use moisturizer after. 

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8. USE A MOSQUITO NET

I don't think it is necessary to bring a mosquito net with you - if you need one, your accommodations will provide it. However, if your accommodations provide one, for the love of god, use it.

I might know a girl *cough* me *cough*... who was really tired (see: drunk) and forgot to put her net down. twice.  She really regretted it. 

9. SHOWER OFTEN TO AVOID SWEAT

It is impossible to avoid being sweaty in SEA, and mosquitos are attracted to sweat. 

In the evening, as they start to come out in abundance, take a quick shower to rinse off any sweat from the day. And then....

10. USE THE SUNSET AS A BUG SPRAY REMINDER

Assoscite the sunset with applying bug spray.  It is a great reminder.  Every time I see the sun is setting, I apply bug spray for the night. If you wait much longer than sunset, it is already too late.

 

Keep reading:

<Southeast Asia Tips

HAPPY GALLIVANTING!

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