It can take you years to save up the money and paid vacation time from work needed before you can finally take the trip of your dreams. But being sick can drain your energy at best, and at worst leave you bed-ridden and bathroom-bound, wasting days in some hotel room or hospital at the edge of paradise. Yet staying healthy is something we often take for granted when planning a trip.
Prepare for your travels and stay healthy throughout your trip by taking these tips to heart. And you know you can trust me, I’m a healthcare professional (pharmacist) after all 😉
A Guide to Staying Healthy While Travelling
What to Pack to Stay Healthy on Holiday
Ensure your well-being from your first step out the door by packing for a healthy trip. Whether you’re using valuable vacation days from your job or working while you travel (e.g. freelance or labour hire), you’ll want to reduce your risk of picking any ailments up and pack hand sanitiser/wipes (but don’t hang it on you bag, it’s a massive sign of a tourist).
Bring a hat and sunglasses for sun protection and a jacket for cold or wet weather. Also, sun cream with a high SPF is incredibly important. The last thing youneed is sunstroke. Oh and don’t forget to pack your first aid kit! You never know what you’ll encounter on the road. Mine is always full of pain killers (to prevent my migraines or hangovers), tablets to help with an upset stomach and plaster/bandaids etc.
Don’t just plan for places of interest. Be sure to have an understanding of local health risks and pack accordingly. Bring dust masks for high-pollution areas or if you will be commuting by motorbike on busy urban streets. Make sure you have anti-malarial tablets if you’re going to a malaria zone and make sure that you have had all relevant vaccinations before you head off on your adventure.
If you’re on any medication make sure you bring extra in case of loss and also make sure you have a copy of your prescription in case you need to show border security or run out of tablets.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
You know every doorknob, sink, faucet, seat and armrest are likely covered with germs, so avoid direct contact when possible, and use your hand sanitiser after contact if it looks particularly unsanitary. Wash your hands (for a full 15-seconds) often. You don’t need to be a germaphobe though. If you have a good immune system and you’re young and healthy you can handle a few germs.
Be mindful of all public transportation and buildings you will be in. Airports, bus terminals and train stations are full of people in every state of health. Remember that a plane is a giant metal tube full of recycled air, and that coughing you hear is bound to blow your direction. Use your jacket or shawl instead of airport blankets and pillows. Take a multivitamin before flights to give your immune system a boost.
In an ideal world building a “bubble” around yourself is the best way to avoid any malevolent microbes. That’s not always possible on a plane, but do what you can. I’ve once stepped on a plane absolutely fine and gotten off two hours later with no voice and an incredibly sore throat. Bizarre. If you’re particularly run down or have an immune disorder then I recommend wearing a surgical mask on planes.
Maintain a Relatively Healthy Diet While Travelling
Diet is incredibly important to your travel health. Be sure to eat regular meals to maintain adequate energy, and pack healthy snacks in your bag to replace any missed meals.
While you may need to dabble in local delicacies (*cough* cocktails), be sure to eat vegetables to keep your fiber levels up. Let’s face it, GI issues can be extremely uncomfortable on the road.
Bring water with you to keep hydrated. This will keep your mucous membranes moist and ready to guard against germs. If you carry your own container, clean it regularly and be careful it doesn’t contact the ground, floors, or dirty shelves.
Moderate alcohol intake can keep your mornings viable, your schedule intact, and of course, your hotel check-outs on time. That’s not to say that you can’t go wild from time to time, but everything in moderation.
I know holidays are when people tend to go wild and throw all caution to the wind when it comes to calories, but try and moderate it. Treat yourself, but keep the majority of your meals as healthy as you would at home.
Stay Active While Travelling
Walk whenever possible, and take the stairs if you can. Moderate exercise is known to increase memory and focus. It can also help control the symptoms of jet lag and manage stress.
For extended periods of travel, regular exercise will keep you in shape for those special excursions. I ALWAYS try to stay active while travelling by diving, snorkelling, horse-riding or through something active and fun like that.
There are plenty of Youtube tutorials on hotel room workouts that you can do in 5-10 minutes every morning.
Listen to Your Body and Take a Day Off
Know your limits and be tuned into the condition of your body. Travel may be about stretching the mind and the consciousness, but there’s no need to stretch the body to the point of breaking. Travel can be EXHAUSTING. Especially if you’re trying to see a lot in a short period of time.
Protect your relaxation time. Plan a full night’s sleep more days than not. You need ample time for the body to recover, for muscles to loosen, for your mind to reset, and all of this will reduce stress. By planning your downtime, you won’t feel that you’re missing out or hit a wall when you should be enjoying sights, activities, and social time. By protecting your sleep time, you also protect your exploration time.
I alway have at least one duvet/chill day per destination. It keeps me stress-free and relaxed and makes the whole trip more enjoyable.
If you do get sick..
Don’t forget, if you’re the one sick, be mindful of other travelers. Keep your coughs, sneezes and other bacteria ejections in a safe direction, like your elbow. Also, extra good karma if you help take care of a fellow sick traveller. You never know when you might need someone to take care of you. And trust me, being sick is A LOT more manageable when someone is there to take care of you.
How do YOU stay healthy on the road?
Let me know!