6 Habits of Healthy Travelers
If you've been following my How Stay Healthy While Traveling the World series, by now you should know traveling can be AMAZING but can also be exhausting and potentially threatening your health. The first two articles in the series covered important things to do before your trip and essential oils you should have in your first aid kit.
Here are 6 habits you should engage in to stay well and enjoy your trip:
1. Stretch Daily
Most of the time when you travel you walk for extended periods of time to explore your destination. Every morning before you start your adventure, give yourself at least 5-10 minutes to stretch your arms, legs, neck, shoulders, and back. As someone who's been battling neck pain over the last few years, I can say that your body will PRAISE you for doing this. You will feel rejuvenated. Also, while you're waiting for food, the bathroom, transportation, etc., sneak in easy neck and shoulder stretches. I also treat myself to stretching right before I go to bed because it soothes my muscles and helps me rest better.
Here's a video of a simple stretching routine you can follow:
2. Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep during my travels has been my saving grace! It's one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy while traveling. As you can imagine, your body needs a break from carrying luggage to and from destinations and walking all day. You should listen to your body to determine how much rest you need; however, 7-9 hours is the recommended amount of sleep. I usually always have planned nap time while I'm traveling.
3. Stay Hydrated
Prior to arriving at your destination, make sure to check that your drinking supply is safe. Staying hydrated is the key to not spending your trip dehydrated or sick. Aim to drink 1-2 cups of water when you wake up and before you go to bed. While carrying a reusable water bottle with a filtration system around is ideal, it can also be burdensome. Potassium-rich foods and drinks like bananas and coconut water hydrate you and keep the fluids in your body. Add chia seeds to your water or food. They are hydrophilic, meaning they prolong hydration and retain electrolytes. Also, avoid your sugary drink intake. All of the above will help you walk longer without having the need to drink water every few minutes.
4. Be Mindful of Your Food
I get it, you are on vacation, you want to indulge! While this may be fine for a few days, if you take longer trips (anything over a week) I guarantee you will feel the effects of your diet. Aim to commit to at least one healthy meal a day. This can easily be done through home-cooked meals made with produce from local markets and grocery stores. Some of my favorite travel memories have been shopping in local grocery stores, it's an excellent way to get a feel for your destination and save money. If you stay in hotels without a kitchen, ask the staff for plates and utensils. Sandwiches and salads are simple to make without a kitchen.
If you are visiting a developing country where food or water-borne illness is rampant, you'll want to reconsider eating raw fruits and vegetables. You should instead eat dishes with cooked vegetables and make sure it is served hot.
5. Protect your Skin
In order to prevent sunburn, early skin aging, and cancer, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends everyone use sunscreen that provides the following:
Broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays)
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 or higher
You should aim to apply sunscreen every two hours. It's a common misconception that you only need sunscreen when it's really sunny outside. However, even on cloudy days the sun's harmful UV rays can seep into your skin. In addition to applying sunscreen, to fully protect your skin you should find shade when the sun is strongest (10am-2pm) and wear protective clothing like a wide-brim hat and sunglasses.
If you’re traveling to an area with a lot of mosquitoes and insects, make sure you wear insect repellent to prevent bites. When I visited Ghana, I treated my clothes with Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent and used Repel 30% DEET Mosquito Repellent Wipes daily.
After touching germy hot spots like an ATM, security line bins, door handles, etc. make sure you use hand sanitizer with at least 50% alcohol. Be sure you sanitize ALL parts of your hands (including fingertips and any rings). If you aren't able to clean right away, avoid touching your hands, nose, and mouth. Also, hand sanitizer targets bacteria, not viruses, it should never replace you actually hand washing with soap and water. It is also useful to have disinfecting wipes around to use when necessary (armrests, seat belts, tray tables, etc).