Traveling is an amazing opportunity but between long flights and days in transit, indulging in local cuisine and lack of routine in general, it can be tricky to stay fit and healthy. Even if you have a regular health routine at home, it goes out the window when you travel – making it easy to forget to prioritize physical and mental well-being.
But wherever you are in the world, it’s important to take care of yourself. Here are a few suggestions on how to do that.
1. Keep up the exercise
It’s an obvious one, but you’ve got to keep exercising to stay fit. It’s not only good for your body, but your mental health too. You don’t need to find a gym everywhere you go to feel the benefits – use your surroundings.
If you’re near a beach, go swimming or running on the sun. If you’re in a city, go to the local park with a skipping rope and use benches for triceps dips and step ups. If you’re struggling for work out inspiration, check out the Body Coach on YouTube.
Personally, if I’m near a beach I try to head there every morning but if I’m not, I make sure to stretch every morning and follow along with a Youtube workout at least a few times a week.
2. Commit to one healthy, fresh meal a day
When you’re traveling to different countries, of course you’re going to want to try some of the amazing dishes a new place has to offer. But as The Every Girl says, having several heavy meals a day can be hard on the body. Before you know it, your stomach is used to having a large amount of food for every meal of the day. That’s why she suggests planning one healthy meal a day.
Pick up fresh local produce, meats, grains, and seafood from a market and prepare fresh dishes from time to time. You could even try out some local recipes and return home with a new dish to impress your friends and family with.
I try to start my day with something healthy – such as plain yogurt and fruit – and also seek out healthy local options as well, like a fresh smoothie or juice. In Costa Rica, I’m a big fan of eating chicken or pork on a stick from the street vendors – no carbs, lots of protein and lots of flavor – just make sure that it’s cooked properly before eating.
3. Take care when flying
You’ll probably take a fair few flights when you’re traveling – some longer than others. Make it a habit to do a few laps of the plane mid-flight.
As the Secret Traveller says, in-your-seat anti-DVT exercises are a good idea (moving your ankles around, raising and dropping your knees), but it’s even better is to just get up and have a walk around. “You’ll feel better for it,” they say.
If I have a layover, I always make a point to spend some time walking around and do a few stretches as well.
4. Watch your alcohol intake
The calories in alcohol can quickly add up – a couple of glasses of wine down and you’ve drunk the same calories as an average meal. But watching your alcohol intake isn’t just about staying healthy, it’s about staying safe.
Having a few too many and being disorientated in a place you don’t know very well isn’t a smart move. Stick to drinking casually with friends, rather than ending up with a terrible hangover and bad memories. Know your limits and stick to them. Personally, I switch to water as soon as I start to feel buzzed. Make sure to keep an eye on your drink too – if someone else is buying you a drink, go to the bar with them and take it from the bartender.
5. Do something you’ve always wanted to
Being healthy isn’t all about strict rules – it’s about a balance. Make the most of your traveling experience and come home with memories that will last a life time. Choose something you thought you’d never be able to do, and challenge or treat yourself.
Whether you’ve always wanted to trek to The Lost City in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada mountains, go to the International Balloon Festival in New Mexico, or bungee jump in New Zealand, go for it. More than anything, you should be having an amazing time doing things you’ve always dreamed of. As long as you’re taking care of your health, you deserve it.
6. Look after your skin
It’s likely you’ll spend a lot of time outside in the sun. Don’t underestimate the damage it can do to your skin. Invest in a good SPF-factor sun cream and remember to reapply regularly. Just because you develop a tan the longer you travel, it doesn’t mean you can neglect sun cream. I buy lip balm with SPF 15 as well as sunscreen meant for the face and make to apply those throughout the day.
It’s also beneficial to spend some time out of the mid-day sun to prevent overexposure. Plus it gives you the perfect opportunity to rest in the shade to read or people-watch!
7. Keep in touch with your friends
Keeping on top of your mental well-being is a huge part of staying healthy. If you’re feeling down, send your family or friends a message or arrange a video call. It’s easy to feel disconnected, especially during long trips, so it’s a great opportunity to ask questions about their life – and share some of your favorite adventures. I always feel better after a long chat with my best friend.
How do you stay healthy when traveling? Share your tips below!