Traveling great distances in search of relief from disease has a long tradition.1 Ancient Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Chinese healers all recognized the importance of climate in maintaining health and alleviating illness. (Ironically, despite Hippocrates’s seminal work, On Airs, Waters and Places, he was not a fan of travel as therapy. Other ancient Greeks felt differently, and one of their favorite destinations was Hippocrates’s home island of Kos.) The champions of medical tourism, and specifically therapeutic sea voyages, were the wealthy elite of the Roman Empire. They not only seasonally migrated on the Italian peninsula seeking a more salubrious climate, but were the first to advocate sailing per se as restorative. Indeed, if conditions—financial, meteorological, or otherwise—did not permit as extensive a journey as Cicero’s 2-year Grand Tour, a day trip on the Tiber would do fine, too.
Bernhardt MS. Bazin’s Disease. JAMA Dermatol. 2014;150(6):587. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.10007