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How To Stay Healthy While Travelling

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July 20th, 2015Travel, Volunteering, Gap Year, Food, Culture
By Samantha Evans


A man looking at the view of the Grand Canyon

Image courtesy of Flickr, Moyan Brenn

Travelling abroad is an exciting experience. You’ll try new foods, see new places and meet new people. However, nothing can ruin a good trip like getting sick. Being ill away from home comes with all sorts of difficulties and inconveniences that you don’t want to be dealing with in a foreign land. Never mind the fact that feeling under the weather will quickly put a stop to all your sightseeing and adventures.

While we can’t guarantee that you won’t be the unlucky recipient of Delhi Belly while backpacking in India or on the receiving end of a nasty cold during an icy winter in Romania, we can suggest that you try some of the following tips to help keep you healthy while exploring the world.

Get your immunisations: Do your research before you leave and find out what the health requirements are for your destination. You may require certain immunisations which you’ll need to get 4-6 weeks before you depart.

Pack your prescription medication: If you’re taking prescription medication, be sure to bring along enough for the duration of your trip. It would be unwise to assume that you can find what you need in a foreign pharmacy.

Keep hydrated: Long flights can really take it out of you, and it’s not uncommon to land in your destination feeling dehydrated and depleted. A lack of humidity in the cabin air means that it’s a good idea to drink plenty of water during the flight and to avoid caffeinated beverages as well as alcohol. Packing eye drops, nose spray and moisturizer in your carry-on is also a great way of keeping fresh and hydrated during the flight.

Once you’ve arrived in your destination, make sure you have access to safe drinking water. This is especially important in hot countries where it’s easy to get dehydrated. It’s always worth checking - never just assume that local tap water is safe.

Water in a cup

Wash your hands: You’ll probably be catching a lot more public transport than usual, which often means confined spaces with strangers - an ideal opportunity for germs to spread! Washing your hands frequently is therefore an absolute must, especially before eating. You can also carry around a small bottle of hand sanitiser with you for when water and soap are not available.

Exercise regularly: This can be a really difficult tip to adhere to considering you won’t be following your usual daily routine. Exercise not only releases feel good endorphins but also stimulates the immune system. Walk as much as you can when travelling and make use of open spaces and parks for activities like running and yoga.

Joggers in a park

Image courtesy of Flickr, Will Ockenden

Get enough rest: Sleep is often sacrificed when travelling. Late nights and early mornings are common and a lack of sleep can result in a weakened immune system. Travel can also be a stressful experience in some ways so taking time out to kick back and relax is vital.

Eat healthily: This can be a challenge when you’re on the road and don’t have a kitchen to prepare meals. It’s also easy to fall into the trap of eating lots of carbs and fried foods when on holiday. Be mindful during at least one meal of the day and try to incorporate protein and fresh fruit and vegetables. We would recommend sticking to cooked vegetables because salad can be risky in some countries if it has been washed in tap water. Taking a daily vitamin supplement also helps in maintaining a good level of health when your dietary choices are not always ideal.

A mixture of vegetables

Image courtesy of Flickr, David Saddler

Use good judgement when eating out: Avoid shady looking restaurants at all costs. The price of the menu may be better suited for your limited budget, but an establishment with an obviously unhygienic kitchen will cost you a lot more in the long run when you find yourself rushing off to the nearest pharmacy with food poisoning. Pre-prepared foods are also notoriously known for carrying a lot of germs.

Dress for the weather: If you’re in a cooler destination, be sure to carry a jacket or coat around with you. Temperatures are often colder in the mornings and evenings so you don’t want to be caught off guard without something warm to put on. If you happen to find yourself in a sunnier climate, it’s equally as important to wear a hat or apply sunscreen regularly, especially after swimming.

Returning home: If you arrive home from your travels feeling even slightly ill, it’s a good idea to pay a visit to you local GP for a check up. As fun as travelling is, it can be a shock to the system in terms of different food, water, routine and exposure to germs. Addressing any post-holiday illness straight away will allow you to return back to your daily routine with more ease.

A plane in the evening sky

Image courtesy of Flickr, Andrei Dimofte

Do you have any tips for keeping healthy while travelling? Tell us about them using the comments block below.

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