We particularly enjoy spending time in tropical climates and have traveled to Thailand, Costa Rica, Bali, Western Australia, and Mexico, as well as the southeaster United Sates. Unfortunately, along with breathtakingly gorgeous beaches and sparkling clear, warm seas come mosquitos, no-see-ums and ticks. In Zandudo Costa Rica, clouds of mosquitoes swarmed us day and night.

Keeping ourselves free from the bites of mosquitoes and other unpleasant insects is a top priority and we are also very picky when it comes to rubbing our skin with chemicals. We have done extensive research on keeping ourselves safe from tropical diseases.

It is a well documented fact (see Consumer Reports, May 2015) that many “natural” repellents are ineffective. It is also proven that products with DEET work. But there is considerable controversy about whether DEET is safe to use, especially on a daily basis. The toxicity of DEET is unclear and is still under investigation. It is known that DEET is absorbed by the skin and excreted by the kidneys. DEET insect repellents also tend to be oily and uncomfortable to wear.

In the past, when we traveled unprepared, we have used products with DEET, primarily because that is the only type of repellent that can be found in most foreign pharmacies and grocery stores. However, now there are alternatives to DEET products that has been shown to be just as effective and seem less toxic. The alternative is a chemical called Picaridin and there are now a number of products that contain it as the active ingredient.

Our own experience is that Picaridin works quite well. We like the Tender Natrapel products because they are easy to apply and have the CDC-recommended concentration of Picaridin. They are also priced fairly. We like to pack a spray bottle of Tender Natrapel and also a box of convenient wipes.

The wipes fit easily in your pocket or purse so that you always have them ready, and they make it easy to apply the repellent wherever you are. Nothing spoils a delicious meal in a charming outdoor restaurant like being swarmed by biting insects!

Unlike other ineffective DEET alternatives, Natrapel’s 20% Picaridin formula is proven to repel mosquitoes, biting insects and ticks.

Here are more features of the Tender Natrapel Pump Insect Repellent

  • Lasts all day – Enjoy 12-plus hours of tick & mosquito protection!
  • Handy Pump Spray – The most popular delivery system on the market makes it easy to apply.
  • TSA Compliant – 3.4 oz. travel size allow you to bring the maximum amount of Natrapel insect repellent with you wherever you venture.
  • Safe on your gear: DEET free formula won’t melt jackets, fishing line, and other plastics
  • CDC recommended formula: 20% Picaridin is the recommended concentration to guard against diseases transmitted by insects

Other Picaridin based insect repellent products we recommend

Better protection with less insect repellent lotion

We have traveled to some tropical countries where biting insects can truly ruin your fun. Honduras was one example, where if we weren’t covered with insect repellent when we went outside, we could count on multiple painful bites.

We also got bitten through our clothes, where we normally didn’t apply insect repllent.

In those conditions, we found Sawyer Premium Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent invaluable. We hung our clothing on a clothesline and sprayed them all over. We did our sandals too. It dries fast and protects you from getting insect bites through your clothes. 

The protection lasts too. Once you treat your clothing, it even works after you wash it, up to six times! It has no odor once it dries.

Another big benefit is that you can put less insect repellent on your skin, which is always a good thing.

If you will be traveling in the tropics, we think this product is a lifesaver. Don’t forget that you can treat your clothes before you travel–the protection will be embedded in your packed clothes. When you unpack and get dressed, you are instantly protected from painful insect bites.