Staying Healthy While You Travel

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This article was submitted by Goats on the Road, a website aimed at teaching others to turn travel into a lifestyle. Check them out to learn how to start a travel blog and how to make money on the road so you can travel indefinitely.

At its best, travel is a fun and often unpredictable whirlwind.  But to really enjoy your time on the road, you’ll want to be feeling healthy and strong.  You’re putting your body through a lot of challenges, from eating new foods to changing up your normal routine. However, there’s nothing so complicated about staying healthy while you’re on the road.

Be conscious of what you're eating

One of my favorite things about traveling is getting to try new foods, but unfortunately this can present something of a challenge for the digestive system. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to keep your digestion as strong and regular as possible.

1. On the plane:  Unfortunately, plane food seems to have a consistently negative effect on my digestion, whether due to its poor quality or the combination of eating and flying. Rather than eating the entire meal provided on the plane, I like to take almonds and dried fruit in my carry-on bag, as these simple snacks seem to be easier on my stomach.water plane landing

Since no one wants to start a trip feeling sick, be sure to pack something that won’t upset your stomach on the plane so you won’t arrive at your destination already feeling ill.

2. Once you arrive: One thing you may want to try when you first arrive in a foreign country is eating lighter. Lighter meals are easier on your digestive system and give your body a chance to adjust to food that it’s not used to without overtaxing it.  Try this for (at least) the first meal and then see how you’re feeling.  If you’re not queasy, try eating a bit more for your second meal, and so on.

Have you thought about vaccinations? Prescription medications? Check out this advice from a real travel doctor!

3. Find a balanced diet:  Food is an important aspect of any cultural or travel experience and I always make a point to try everything at least once, whether it’s going nearly vegetarian in India or trying crickets for the first time in Mexico.  But, as a fellow traveler, you also need to know the diet with which your body feels most comfortable.

Street foods are extremely convenient - and often cheap! - but they’re also usually bathed in oil and offer few (or zero) healthy options. If you are staying in a hostel or an apartment, consider a break from the street food scene and take advantage of the kitchen.

You don’t have to cook every meal, but making yourself a salad or some veggies once in a while will give your body a much-needed break from greasy street foods and local delicacies. AND you shouldn’t have to stray too far off your budget.

food in a foreign country

4. Take advantage of healthy options:  While the temptation to partake in unhealthy food options can be great, most destinations offer wonderful healthy foods as well, sometimes at a fraction of the cost.

For instance, I love the fresh pressed juices in Mexico. I can find everything from carrot juice to green juices with celery, pineapple and sometimes even nopal (a cactus full of nutrients) for about 1USD!  Juice in the U.S. is much more expensive—and forget about getting it fresh!

5. Eat local: Take advantage of the fact that fruits are often in season in warmer climates and that, in many parts of the world, produce that is in season is very affordable. There will likely be new and different vegetables to experiment with; it can be fun to try to incorporate these foreign ingredients into your cooking while abroad.

Traveling long term? Here are the things no one tells you.

Stay active

Even though you’re away from home and you’ve stepped out of your normal routine, you can still travel in an active manner that will keep you healthy while you’re on the road. 

yoga on the water

1. Incorporate activities that you love into your travel.

Staying active on the road can be fun; it doesn’t have to be a chore at all.  You can see a part of the country you’re visiting on foot or go hiking or biking through a mountainous area, for example.  There’s also diving or swimming if you’re near the coast, and you can usually find yoga retreats or workout classes in many countries.

2.  See the city by foot.

When you’re exploring a new city or town, avoid taking a cab to save a ton of money and put in several really good miles. I’ll often walk 10+ miles in a day of travel, without making a drastic effort, just to get around town.

Don’t underestimate down time

laying on the beach

While you’re on the road, there may be a conscious or subconscious pressure to do and see everything; that may even be what got you traveling in the first place.  However, once you’ve taken off, you’ll need to strike a balance between this ‘doing’ energy and a more reflective, calming energy.

I’ve learned over the years that it's important not to tire myself out too much. If you’re constantly on the go, meeting new people and cramming every excursion you can into your itinerary, you may wear yourself out. This exhaustion can easily lead to fatigue or sickness.

If possible, it’s good to take time for yourself each day to read and write, relax, and check in with yourself to see how you’re feeling.  Staying in touch with your body is a final, crucial step in maintaining your health while you’re out of your home country in an entirely new environment.

Don't forget to pack the Ultimate Guide to International Travel. Download now!


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