Traveling can throw your body off track. Most of us let loose while traveling. We ditch our healthy daily routine, overindulge, and forgo sleep for more entertaining activities. We wear ourselves down. We too often return from our vacations either sick, feeling like crap, or needing a second vacation to recover from the first.
To stay healthy while traveling a little self-discipline is required, but the results are well worth the effort. You’ll keep your body and mind in balance, you’ll have more energy to enjoy your trip, you’ll feel good during your travels, and you’ll still feel good when you come home. Here are 11 tips of mine to keep your mind and body healthy and happy while traveling:
1. Stay active
Some gentle exercise each day will boost energy and balance your body and mind. Don’t skip out on exercise just because you’re traveling. Even if you’re away from your normal workout spot, there’s always a way to bring in some movement. I loathe using a hotel gym while traveling, and would much prefer to be active outdoors, whether going on a bike ride, hike, or practicing yoga. Pack sneakers and seek out local hiking trails. If nothing else, take a short walk around the block; even ten minutes does the body good.
2. Drink ample water
As a traveler, water safety is a very serious issue. Contaminated water is a major source of illness so it’s very important to understand what the water situation is like beforehand. When I traveled to New Zealand, I could drink water from anywhere with no worry at all. In Southeast Asia and South America, it was a much different story. Despite the challenges in some countries to find fresh drinking water, there is always bottled water available. Don’t skimp out on water consumption as it is probably the most important thing to keep up while traveling. It increases energy and relieves fatigue, flushes out toxins, boosts immune system, acts as a natural headache remedy, prevents cramps and injury, and puts you in a good mood.
As we sit or stand for hours on modes of transport and through endless walking, our muscles and joints become stiff and tight, enabling us more prone to injury and discomfort. Daily stretching helps keep joints lubricated and muscles more elastic so joint pain and injury is less likely.
We know how to breathe. It is something that occurs automatically, spontaneously, and naturally. We are breathing even when we are not aware of it. But we can develop unhealthy habits without being aware of it. Quick shallow breathing results in oxygen starvation which leads to a poor immune system. While busy and on the go, this quick and shallow breathing is too easy to make a habit out of. I find it’s important to slow down when things are going just too fast, breathe deeply, and do my best to let stress and any other tensions go.
5. Avoid excess alcohol
Beer and wine in other countries may contain more or less alcohol content than what you’re used to. Pay attention to the effects of all drinks. Moderation is the safest course of action.
6. Eat local
The local dishes are what chefs are used to making and are good at making, and the ingredients used for these dishes are constantly being used, therefore constantly being replenished. You may think ordering something like pizza off the menu is a safe choice, but in fact can get you very sick. Plus, if it’s local and fresh, not only will it taste amazing it will give you a more authentic experience.
7. Stay strong
When we start traveling, absolutely nothing is familiar and the slightest speed bump can be enough to screw things up. If you can stay strong both mentally and physically throughout your travels, you will be able to handle anything that is thrown your way with ease.
8. Have gratitude
You know when you get to that point when you’ve been traveling for a while and everything you own is dirty; when all you could possibly want is a warm shower and a laundry machine? These are the times that always put me in my place. And clearly, the times when my Western world privilege needs to be put in its place. These are the times when the exhaustion and the desire for the known start creeping in. But these are also the times when the real point of traveling shows its face. Because why do we travel if not to experience the lives of others; to be a part of a culture that is not your own? And this is what I am most grateful for from traveling: learning to appreciate and be grateful for all that I see, learn, experience, and have.
9. Adapt and smile
Travel never goes as planned. Things come up, stuff breaks, people are mean, and schedules change. ALWAYS. What makes a happy traveler is the ability to adapt and smile in spite of everything going wrong.
10. Bare your soul
I remember being late to work one day and forgetting to apply any makeup. All day people were asking me if I was sick. This didn’t happen when I traveled. Nobody commented on my bare face. When traveling forget makeup, forget spending hours straightening/curling your hair. Slather on some sunscreen and be happy to go with that. I look different to myself when I’m traveling, because I suspect my happiness and gratitude is radiating from within me.
Be your true self and down to earth. Learn to leave all the materialistic tendencies and natures at home. I believe that the happiest traveler you can be is one truly content in your own skin.
11. Find balance
Finding that balance between all of these tips is essential in creating a healthy body and mind while traveling all around: enjoying an alcoholic drink while still drinking enough water, relaxing while still remaining active, etc. It’s important to find a balance between all extremes in our lives, and traveling is something that has all sorts of extremes, as we face such stark contrasts from our daily routines at home.