Useful Tips on Staying Healthy While Traveling
Traveling is one of the best things you can do. You get to experience different cultures, explore new surroundings and get out of your comfort zone. But, vacationing isn’t always as glamorous as it looks on Instagram.
Many adventures are accompanied by stress, bruises, cuts, germs and illness — from food poisoning to coronavirus. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when leaving the comfort and safety of home, but there are ways you can prepare for the change of pace and maintain your health.
Always Stay Hydrated
You’ve heard it a million times before, but it’s just as important now as it always has been: You have to drink water. Staying hydrated is the key to feeling energized, staying healthy and protecting your skin from the signs of early aging.
When you’re spending all day out in the sun, you’re particularly susceptible to dehydration, which can lead to all sorts of negative health effects. While traveling, drink 10 cups of water every day or more if you plan on being active, drinking alcohol or lounging in the sun.
Keep It Clean
This is good advice no matter where you may travel. So many diseases are preventable thanks to modern standards of hygiene and cleanliness. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you can take a break from all of your personal responsibilities. In fact, it’s even more important to prioritize being clean now.
Wash your hands before and after you eat and any time you return from a public space or the great outdoors. Keep your clothes clean and maintain your typical bathing schedule, too. Stay clean, and stay healthy.
When you’re in the vacation mindset, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to go for a run or head to the hotel’s gym. But there’s a huge difference between sticking to your regular exercise routine and sitting around all day. A simple way you can stay active is by walking while you explore.
Walking can keep your metabolism up and provide you with some essential cardio exercise. Plus, it can also be very relaxing, especially if you’re walking through nature. So head to your next attraction on foot or simply take a walk around the neighborhood.
Focus on Eating Healthily
At home or abroad, there are so many health issues that you can avoid or lessen by eating better. When you eat well, you can give your body the vitamins and nutrients it needs to stay healthy and function as it should. You'll feel more energized and ready to take on the day.
Healthy eating requires even more discipline when traveling, but it’s well worth the extra effort. If you’re already on a special diet, stick to it during your trip. If not, focus on eating more vegetables, fruits and lean meats and less sugar and starch.
Schedule a Checkup Before You Leave
No matter if you’re going to a remote jungle or an urban city, it’s a good idea to get checked out before you hit the road. Schedule a quick checkup with your primary care provider to ensure you’re in top shape. If you’re traveling out of the country, you may also need to get certain vaccinations.
You want to make sure that you’re 100% ready before you go somewhere new. If not, you may be increasing your risk of getting sick while traveling, which would put a real damper on the rest of your vacation.
Stretch Every Morning
Do you have a full day planned? Spend 10 minutes every morning stretching before you head out. You’ll feel so much more refreshed when you start your day. Stretch your arms, neck, shoulders, legs and back to work out any morning stiffness.
You don’t need to do an intense workout every day to stay in shape during your trip. Simply stretching and getting your blood flowing may be all you need to start your day right. Throughout the day, you can also throw in a few neck and shoulder stretches if you need a quick refresh.
Plan for Cabin Pressure on Your Flight
When you’re flying, the cruising altitude is much different than the air on the ground. This can have more of an impact on your body than you may realize. The pressure makes people feel the same as they would high up in the mountains, and that pressure can make breathing difficult.
If you’re an anxious flyer or you have difficulty breathing through your nose, flying can be especially troubling. For anxiety, do what you can to stay calm and practice deep breathing. If you have nose troubles, bring a decongestant so you can be comfortable during your flight.
Protect Your Skin
Who doesn’t love lying out in the sun and soaking up its rays? Despite how great your tan looks, you can have too much of a good thing. Everyone knows that the sun’s rays can cause sunburns and, over time, skin cancer. But still, so few people take sun protection seriously.
If you plan to be outside for an extended period, apply sunblock to your face, shoulders and any other exposed skin. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above. The ideal sunblock will depend on your natural skin tone and how long you plan to remain outside.
Learn Basic First Aid
This is a simple tip, but it really comes in handy. Before you head out on your journey, teach yourself the basics of first aid. Learn how to perform CPR, treat burns and care for cuts and blisters. You should also know what to do if an emergency arises.
In emergencies, remember to stay calm, assess the situation and quickly find a solution. This could be the difference between life and death. Also, it helps to pack a basic first aid kit and bring it wherever you go. The kit should have bandages, antibiotic cream, gauze, tweezers and safety pins, among other essentials.
Cook Your Own Meals
Traveling is a great way to try new things and experience the local cuisine wherever you may be. But you don’t need to eat out for every meal to enjoy the local flavors. Doing so can be expensive and not particularly healthy.
Instead, try to cook some meals in your hotel room if it has a kitchen. Shop for ingredients at the local grocery store; choose produce and other healthy ingredients. Even without a kitchen, you can still easily prepare certain meals like sandwiches and salads. Often, the hotel front desk can provide you with utensils and plates if needed.
Few types of exercise work out your body, mind and spirit quite like yoga does. Yoga helps to boost flexibility, increase strength and improve circulation. It can even help you de-stress, improve your mood and encourage higher-quality sleep every night.
Because yoga is so popular around the world, it’s easy to find a class to join no matter where you are. Don’t want to go through the trouble of finding a temporary studio? Practice in your hotel room. Some hotels and hostels even offer yoga classes on-site that you can join.
Protect Your Immune System When Flying
Airplane cabins aren’t known for their cleanliness. They’re typically cramped places, crowded with people who may have coughs, colds and other diseases. Ventilation is limited, and the interiors aren’t cleaned very thoroughly between every flight. All of this together creates an environment where a person can get sick very easily.
When you’re getting ready for your flight, take steps to boost your immune system. Increase your consumption of vitamin C, cut down on your sugar intake and eat lots of healthy fruits and veggies. Get a good night's rest before your flight and drink plenty of water, too.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is always crucial for your overall health — but especially so when you’re traveling. When you’re able to wake up when you please, do whatever you want and stay up late, it can be difficult to stick to a regular sleep schedule. But, you need to be well-rested to prevent illness and enjoy your vacation to the fullest.
Ideally, adults should get about eight hours of sleep every night. If you have a bedtime routine, keep it up during your trip. If you still have trouble sleeping, consider taking a sleep aid.
Try to Stick to Your Routine
Travel often comes with an air of spontaneity and freedom, but most humans are creatures of habit. Heading out on a trip can seriously mess up your routine. This can, without you even realizing it, cause stress and all of the negative side effects that come with that stress.
Even in your new surroundings, try to stick to your routine as best as you can. Wake up and go to sleep around the same time every day. Keep to the same morning routine and eat your meals when you ordinarily would at home.
We get it. You’re away from work, you’re on vacation and you just want to kick back and have a few drinks. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you do so responsibly and smartly. Don’t go overboard and binge drink every night.
Moderation is key. But it can be difficult when you’re in that vacation mindset, especially if you’re at an all-inclusive resort. Know your limits, keep track of how much you’re drinking and never drink on an empty stomach. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water, too.
Disconnect From Technology
Since you’re taking a break from work and home life, why not give yourself a break from your digital life, too? These days, we hear all too much about the negatives of constantly being connected to our devices. Social media, in particular, can have a uniquely devastating effect on people’s mental health.
On your next trip, focus on disconnecting. Let everyone at the office know that you’ll be away from your devices and won’t be checking your email. Put away your smartphone, tablet and laptop and try to be fully present in your new surroundings.
Make a Buffet Plan
Buffets are a staple of cruise ships, casinos and all-inclusive resorts. The sheer number of food choices can be overwhelming, and you may quickly realize that your eyes are bigger than your stomach. For this reason, it’s smart to head into the buffet with a plan.
Before you start grabbing everything in sight, take a lap to see everything that’s available. Then, decide exactly what you want to eat so you won’t be tempted to pick up the first thing you see. Stick to one plate at a time, too. If you’re hungry, you can always go back for seconds.
Take in the Fresh Air
Your mom was right; you shouldn’t waste all day sitting in front of a TV screen. Get some fresh air and experience the natural beauty of the world around you. Even if you’re visiting a big city, there’s bound to be a green space nearby where you can enjoy the clean air.
Your body will thank you when you do. Getting outside can decrease stress, improve your mood and energize your body. On top of that, it can also boost your immune system, which means less worrying about getting sick while you’re having fun.
Maintain Your Oral Hygiene Routine
Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you don’t have to floss. Stick with your usual dental health routine. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day and use mouthwash periodically.
If you’re flying overnight, you may want to bring a germ-killing mouthwash onboard with you. This can guard your teeth against germs while moisturizing your throat and mouth. Plus, it’s easier than trying to brush your teeth through turbulence. Just make sure you have the right bottle size; you can’t carry individual containers with more than 3.4 ounces of liquid each through the security check.
Take It Easy and Pace Yourself
When you’re in a new and exciting destination, it can be tempting to want to see everything. You may have the urge to pack your itinerary from dawn to dusk with activities. But more often than not, planning such a strictly scheduled trip can be overwhelming and create more stress.
The point of a vacation is to rest and recharge; you don’t want to return home more burnt out than when you left. Set aside some "you time" every day so you can rest and relax on your trip. Leave a little room in the schedule for spontaneity, too.
Stock Up on Wet Wipes and Hand Sanitizer
All day, you come into contact with germs and bacteria. When you’re traveling, you usually spend much more time in public spaces than usual, which means exposure to more germs and a greater chance that you’ll get sick. Protect yourself by carrying hand sanitizer and wet wipes with you.
Use wet wipes to clean off surfaces before you use them. These are especially handy when flying, so you can clean off your seat, armrests and tray table. Hand sanitizer is also super useful if you want to clean up before or after eating or on any occasion when soap and water are unavailable.
Be Active While Flying
It’s hard to sit still on a long-haul flight, but boredom shouldn’t be your biggest concern. Did you know that staying immobile for extended periods can actually be dangerous? You could develop blood clots in your legs or a condition called deep vein thrombosis.
To prevent this and keep your blood flowing normally, try to move your legs throughout the flight. Contract your muscles, swing your legs, tap your toes and massage your legs and feet from time to time. You should stand up and walk through the aisles once an hour, too.
Practice Stress-relief Techniques
Travel provides an escape from your everyday stressors, but it’s not without its own annoyances. You may be anxious about flying, worried about keeping up with your itinerary or unable to disconnect from work. Whatever’s on your mind, the stress it causes can impact your mental, emotional and physical health.
Learn how to manage your stress so you can be totally present during your trip and enjoy life to the fullest. Practice deep breathing techniques, start journaling, learn how to meditate or do anything else that makes you feel relaxed and at ease.
Be Smart When Ordering Out
Because cooking your own food is more difficult while traveling, most people eat out at restaurants for every meal. While dining out can be nice every once in a while, doing it three times a day can take a toll on your waistline (and your wallet). When you do eat out, make smart choices.
Choose healthier options at restaurants. Cut down on the amount of meat you eat and increase the number of veggies you eat. Select a vegetarian dish, or add a side salad to your meal.
Check Your Lodgings for Bedbugs
These little pests are any traveler’s worst nightmare. Hotels, hostels and vacation rentals alike are all susceptible to bedbug infestations. Bedbugs are nocturnal, blood-sucking insects that love to hide in fabrics and crevices, making mattresses one of their favorite dwellings.
The first thing you should do when you enter your dorm or room is check for bed bugs. Search along the seams of the mattress, behind headboards, along the baseboard and by the wall junctions for signs of these bugs. Check for dead bugs or waste marks, which look like small black spots.
Go for a Hike
One of the best ways to exercise while exploring a new area is by going on a hike. Hiking offers a unique combination of both physical and mental benefits that are vital to your overall health while traveling.
You get to experience the natural landscape of your new surroundings, all while getting your heart rate up. Do some research to find the best hiking trails in your area and choose the one that best fits your skill level. And don’t forget to bring your trail map and plenty of water with you.
Pack Less Than You Think You Need
When packing for a trip, most people have a tendency to go a little bit overboard. Take it from us — you’re not going to need 12 different pairs of pants, a formal gown and a month’s worth of underwear (unless you’re traveling for a month). And lugging around all of that extra weight puts unnecessary stress on your body, potentially causing injuries.
Think realistically about where you’re going and what you’ll be doing. Then, pack accordingly (with an eye towards minimalism). And, be sure to find out if there are a washer and dryer available where you’re staying.
Practice Safe Sex
No matter if you’re traveling for fun or business, it feels like anything can happen, including hitting it off with an attractive stranger. Though traveling provides the freedom to get a little crazy and do things you wouldn’t do ordinarily, you still have to be smart about it.
If you do decide to spend the night with someone, make sure you practice safe sex. Always use protection and communicate openly. Be honest about your preferences and your decision to practice safe sex. And, if you know you have an STI, let your partner know ahead of time.
Embrace the Sunlight
Who doesn’t love a little vitamin D? This vitamin helps our bodies absorb calcium, which is essential for healthy and strong bone growth. It can also help to prevent respiratory infections like the cold and flu, decrease the effects of seasonal affective disorder and even help to lower the risk of heart disease.
While the benefits of vitamin D are vital every day of the year, they’re even more important while you’re traveling. Plus, for once, you’re not stuck inside at the office. Take advantage of this opportunity and spend your time enjoying the sunlight.
Indulge a Little
Staying healthy doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself of everything fun and enjoyable. In fact, a big part of taking care of yourself and your spirit is enjoying yourself. Traveling is meant to be indulgent, so live a little. Don’t be afraid to reward yourself after a long day of traveling.
Moderation is key. Should you eat a slice of cake after every single meal? No, of course not. But should you avoid anything perceived as unhealthy during your trip? No. It’s all about knowing when to treat yourself.