Travelling does all sorts of crazy things to your body.
Different weather, different water, different routine, different time zones, different foods. Throw in too much booze, too much sun, long days and long haul flights and it’s not surprising that lots of people get sick on the road.
Of course, most of us don’t pack our bags to then go and deprive ourselves of cocktails with little umbrellas and late nights in local clubs. But, there are some simple things that we can all do to stay a little healthier and a little happier on the road.
DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
Remember, by the time you’re feeling thirsty, your body has already been needing water for a while!
Not downing enough water can leave you sluggish, give you a dreadful headache or a short temper and generally make you a pretty crappy travel buddy. Not really what you want when you’re supposed to be off having fun.
But, what do we mean by enough?
Technically, two litres per day. But what many people don’t realise is that you need to drink much more when you’re travelling in hot countries or taking part in strenuous activities; even sight-seeing in Europe during the summer months will deplete you pretty quickly.
That’s why it’s so important to have a constant supply of sanitised water with you at all times (especially if you’re in a country with unsafe drinking water where drinking out of the tap simply isn’t possible).
And remember, by the time you’re feeling thirsty, your body has already been needing water for a while!
FRESH FRUIT AND VEG IS A FRIEND
We know, we know. The five-a-day rule is not something new – most of you probably go silently throughout the day ticking them off your mental to-do list. And whilst this might be easy enough whilst wondering around your local supermarket, in some countries and on some trips, you might have to try a little harder.
For those of you that enjoy eating out, try and vary your restaurant choices so that you’re not always hitting the same steakhouses, burger stores and pizza joints – actively seek out restaurants that offer vegetarian options. They may be a little harder to find, but it usually guarantees that you’ll be able to find something a little greener than a pathetic side salad sitting next to your fries.
If you travel on a budget, getting your daily fill of fruit and veggies can actually be a little easier. Whilst so many travellers opt for instant noodles and giant bowls of pasta, cooking up something healthy and nutritious is much simpler than most people realise – it just takes a little more effort!
Another excellent tip is to check out juice and smoothie bars, where you can get a good serving of fruit and/or veggies in one go – just make sure to ask for it without sugar!
Natural Sleeping Patterns
Late nights out, early mornings sight-seeing, noisy streets and even noisier roommates plus the dreaded long haul flight. It’s not surprising that your sleep patterns get thrown out of whack when you set off on an adventure.
Not so dreadful if you’re travelling for months, but a nightmare if you’ve only got a couple of weeks – the last thing you need is grogginess or exhaustion getting in the way of your all too brief holiday and adventure!
For someone who is used to working ridiculous shift patterns, I know that fixing a disrupted sleep pattern is much easier said than done and that no amount of great advice is going to have you flip your body clock immediately upon flying into Sydney from London.
However, there are simple things that you can try both before, during and after your flight to help you adjust. For example, in the run-up to your trip, try and slowly alter your body clock rather than simply staying up super late the day before you fly.
Once you’ve boarded the plane, the temptation can be to hit up the free alcohol trolley, eat everything that’s offered you and abandon all hopes of easing into the new time zone with binges of whatever box set your airline is showing. Instead, avoid caffeine-heavy drinks and alcohol, opting for water instead, eat only when you’re hungry (aeroplane food is notoriously dull and not terribly good for you, so you could even consider bringing your own healthy munchies!) and set your watch to your new timezone. If you should be sleeping, try and get some rest!
The same goes for when you arrive. If it’s midday, have some lunch and try to last until evening, if the sun’s shining go for a walk and if it’s night-time, head straight for bed. It may well feel horrible, but I promise you’ll adjust a lot quicker!
Some trips are designed to be action-packed, calorie-busting affairs that work muscles you didn’t recall having. Others involve flouncing around vineyards, checking into the best restaurants, club nights and greasy street food.
One of these will leave you happy, but possibly a few pounds heavier. However, as firm believers in the merits of the latter approach to travel, we know that the days spent bar hopping need to be mix and matched with bike rides, country hikes, pounding the pavement and the beach run.
Thankfully, it’s actually quite easy to get a bit of exercise in on the road – you just have to remember to do it. On our travels, we’ve found loads of hostels offering free (or very cheap) yoga classes, hotels with gyms, beautiful running routes and salsa classes.
If you look hard enough, you can usually find a spot to chuck a towel down and run through a sun salutation or two or one of the many quick and sweaty circuits on Pinterest. Planning on sticking around in a place for more than a week? Contact the local gyms as it is not uncommon for places to let you join short-term.
If all else fails, chuck on a pair of trainers and go for a jog and conquer the city on foot. There are lots of great sites for finding local running routes around the world – a couple of our favourites are mapmyrun and runkeeper.
Lastly, to avoid more serious illness when travelling, ensure that you are adequately vaccinated for each country you visit.