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8 tips for staying healthy during extended traveling
Vacations are a time to splurge and enjoy yourself. They’re an opportunity to break your routine, explore new places, meet new people, interact with cultures, and maybe even snap a few fun photos for Instagram (you can check out tools like ViralRace if you’re trying to build an audience).
All travel is rightfully on pause right now, but if you normally travel a great deal — such as for work, as a digital nomad, for study abroad, or you simply enjoy it and can afford to do so — it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You’re not on vacation all the time (but please, do not travel until people are safe from COVID-19).
Neglecting your health while traveling is far too easy, though. Without the comforts and routines of home, especially if you move consistently and are always shaking up your schedule, it’s hard to remember to adhere to healthy practices. Here are a few tips for staying healthy during an extended trip:
Eat a healthy diet
We get it. You’re in a new country and you want to taste ALL the foods. From tagine in Morocco to pho on the streets of Vietnam, who wouldn't want to try everything possible? As they say, you haven’t truly been somewhere if you didn’t eat.
While it’s tempting to over-indulge while traveling, you’ll thank yourself for maintaining a healthy diet. Depending on how often you are on the move, it’s important to keep track of what nutrients you are getting from which sources. Ask the locals how they stay healthy: which foods are the most nutritious? Do they have any grocery shopping tips?
Your digestive system may not be prepared for different foods. The locals might have no problem with the bacteria in street food, but you might feel differently the next morning (traveler's diarrhea is a real thing). So, talk to your doctor about probiotics, and bring some tablets with you so that you can enjoy new foods without an upset stomach later.
Drink lots of water
Hydration is imperative. Your body needs water to work. It’s a myth that you need eight glasses of water per day, so trust your body to tell you when it’s thirsty. Research the water potability of each place you are about to visit, too: tap water isn’t always safe to drink, so make sure you either have an effective filter or access to purified water.
Find consistency in exercise
If you move between places regularly, then you never know what equipment you will have for working out. Make your exercise routine flexible, and find ways to squeeze it in wherever you can. Walk between locations instead of taking a taxi. Look into day passes or one-month memberships at local gyms. Research bike rentals and go for rides often. Find a public park you can safely run through. It’s challenging to keep up a consistent exercise routine, but you can make time for it when possible.
Don’t neglect a clean space
The last thing you want while traveling is getting sick. As the COVID-19 crisis has made people realize too late, we clean objects far too infrequently and do not wash our hands nearly enough. You’d be astounded to learn how little airplanes are cleaned, so always bring disinfectant wipes with you, hand sanitizer, and maybe even a bit of hand soap. Wipe down your seats in planes, trains, and cars. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your face in places where germs spread easily. There are lots of illnesses out there that can spread if you aren’t careful.
Bring your own pillowcases
On a related note, it doesn’t hurt to bring your own pillow cases if you are staying in hotels or rented apartments. They should be washed, of course, but the decorative pillowcases may not be. Plus, it’s good to bring your own neck pillow or blanket for plane and train rides: they’re not always complimentary anymore, and they certainly aren’t the freshest.
Prepare your medications
How will you refill your medications while abroad? The process can be tricky, and some countries do not allow specific medications to cross their borders, so conduct careful research well ahead of time to be sure that you can take your medications with you. Some medications are also made differently.
Get travel insurance
You’ll be grateful for travel insurance if you are hurt in an accident or a medical issue arises. Don’t take the risk: buy travel insurance for peace of mind, and the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers can offer you guidance and connect you with English-speaking doctors when needed.
Focusing on your health while travelling can be challenging, but it’s more than possible to live a healthy lifestyle on the road. How do you stay healthy when traveling?