Travel is great. Although there is a slightly less attractive aspect to the wandering life – how it can impact your health. Now don’t get me wrong, I still love the anticipation of boarding a plane or hopping on a night train and am still amazed at how much it opens up the world. But still, the actual travel part of travelling – especially if you are on a long trip – can really take it out of you.
It’s sometime hard not to feel exhausted and a bit unwell when you arrive at your destination. This is especially the case if you are on a fiddly part of a trip that requires multiple days of movement, numerous border crossings and a variety of forms of transport.
Luckily, I’ve got a few tips to help you stay healthy while you are on the road. Here we go…
How to Stay Healthy on the Road
#1 Keep Well Watered
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate my friend. My first tip probably seems like an obvious one – but it’s also by far the most essential one, too.
Foreign travel more often than not involves placing our body in a climate it’s not necessarily used to. Humid bus rides, sweaty boat journeys, sweltering train trips, all these have one thing in common, they dehydrate you. And just like your grandpa’s roses, when we are not kept well watered we wilt rather than flourish.
This is especially true when we fly at high altitudes, you may not be aware of this but the changing cabin pressure reduces our blood oxygen levels. Argh! This isn’t really something to worry too much about but it can result in short term headaches, dizziness and just generally fatigue. And when we are tired our bodies are more susceptible to falling sick. Hence why we often get sick during the first few days of a trip.
So how can you prevent this? Easy, drink more water. Lovely, lovely water. Also, and you may not like this bit, but I’ll tell you anyway: avoid demon drink. That means skipping the vodka offered to you by the Russian in bunk above you on the night train or avoiding the free in-flight booze.
And don’t just stop with alcohol, avoid drinks that can dehydrate you or reduce your body’s ability to absorb oxygen, like caffeine too – sorry! Instead, guzzle as much water and juice as you can get your hands on.
#2 Get More Sleep
Travel is about adventure right? Well, yes but that doesn’t mean you can’t adventure in a nice relaxed way. Getting enough sleep on the road is essential to staying healthy. It may surprise you but poor-quality sleep, is pretty much the main reason most of us end up feeling down when we are travelling. It is the at the heart of almost all diagnosed cases of the dreaded ‘travellers fatigue’.
Getting up for that ‘can’t miss sunrise’ often means we are out before the bin men are up and this is usually on the back of a poor night of so-called ‘rest’. We are then expected to make our way to our next location, haggle for prices, deal with crowded transport and language barriers. We then feel the pressure to socialize with other travellers and be ‘on’ when we arrive at our destination, nobody wants to be thought of as the ‘fun sponge’ in the hostel.
Of course, knowing we should get more sleep and actually doing it are two very separate things. It often isn’t easy to get a good night’s sleep when travelling. You can do yourself a few favours, using an eye mask and earplugs can do wonders. As can bringing along some lightweight home comforts.
#3 Slow Down
Guys, slow down. Why are you in such a rush everywhere? Obviously going travelling is, well, about travelling. But shouldn’t it also be about getting to know a new place a little better, rather than just rocking up, getting the selfie and rolling on?
Poor health when travelling most often kicks in when we move around too much. Staying still for a week or longer allows you to get into a rhythm, regain your strength and energy and basically be a better traveller. Why not find a hammock and read that book all in one go.
Oh, and you if have a few weeks to a couple of months to spend in one place, a whole host of other benefits will begin to pile up for you, also. You could swap the creaky hostel bunk and instead rent a cheap room, saving you chunks on accommodation. You’ll get to know the area more; where locals hang out, for instance, where the best food is and maybe even start to make friends, real friends. Doesn’t that sound better than simply dragging your sickly body from night bus to temple and then back onto another night bus?
Well, there you go. Three essential tips to put help you rediscover your health on the road and your travelling mojo with it. Happy wanders!
Have you ever suffered with health issues while travelling? Perhaps you have other top tips you would like to share with us. If so, please leave your suggestions in the comments below.
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