Staying healthy while traveling can prove challenging. You are more susceptible to exposure of the sun, disease, water-borne illnesses…the list goes on. There are several ways to keep healthy while traveling:
Working out is important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. There are still some ways to keep active and still enjoy your holiday. Go on a walking tour of the city, instead of hiring a taxi. Go swimming. Rent a bicycle. Use your hotel’s gym facilities. Even as little as 30 minutes of exercise can boost your immunity. (Travel Tip: Did you know that working out BEFORE a flight helps to reduce jetlag?)
2. Use sun protection
Sun protection is a must when traveling. You should protect yourself from the sun by wearing hats, sunscreen, and lip balm to avoid burns. Dermatologists recommend using sunscreen with broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection. Your sunscreen should have an SPF of 30 or higher. You should reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, or after swimming or sweating.
Don’t forget that skin cancer also can form on the lips. To protect your lips, apply a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Wearing sunglasses is also important because you are more susceptible to harmful UVA and UVB rays. Check that your sunglasses block 100% of UV rays.
Tip: Download the Wolfram Sun Exposure Reference app to monitor your exposure to UV light.
3. Avoid drinking local (tap) water
People often take access to clean drink water for granted. However, when traveling abroad, you have to be cautious when drinking water. Giardia, hepatitis A, typhoid, diarrhea and cholera are transmitted by water in less-developed countries. It is recommended to drink bottled water to avoid getting sick with water-borne illnesses. (On that note, please recycle plastic bottles; plastic is not biodegradable).
Travel Tip: You can check if local water is safe to drink by downloading the Vitens Water Advisor app.
Unfortunately, in some areas, access to bottled water is limited, such as when you’re in the wilderness on a trek. In this case, you should boil your water or take a water filter with you. UV water purifiers use ultraviolet light to sterilize the water in just 45 seconds! There are several UV water purifiers on the market including SteriPEN and Camelbak. LifeStraw is another way to purify contaminated water and doesn’t even require batteries!
On that note, it’s equally important to keep hydrated. Alcohol, caffeine, and sodas are dehydrating. Add in the fact that you’ve sweat half a liter of water visiting tourist sights. Keep a BPA-free water bottle on hand, so that you are more likely to rehydrate throughout the day.
5. Keep (healthy) snacks on hand
It’s difficult to stay healthy when all you want to do is devour everything sinful in sight. (Honestly, who can say no to gelato?) While I do take advantage of the occasional splurge, it is imperative to keep healthy snacks, like fruits and nuts, on hand. Firstly, you will get the benefits of vitamins and nutrients you may not get otherwise when eating street food. Second, it saves you money.
6. Carry sanitizer
Bacteria are everywhere. Hand sanitizer is a good way to kill germs you come into contact with, especially when you’re traveling. Look for a hand-sanitizer with at least 90% alcohol. There are pocket-sized versions available on the market for easy traveling.
7. Get sleep
Lack of sleep affects the body in many ways. It affects the immune system, making you more susceptible to colds. Sleep deprivation also puts you in a bad mood. So, you won’t enjoy your much-needed holiday if you haven’t the energy to do anything. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation is a common side effect of traveling across time zones in a short amount of time. Here are some tips on avoiding jet lag.
8. Take vitamins
It can be difficult to eat a well-balanced diet. So, taking a multi-vitamin will help you to get essential vitamins when you’re traveling.
9. Boost your immunity – Get Vaccinated
I consider myself a well-traveled person. Having said that, I have been to a lot of countries where there is little access to healthcare. Prepare yourself in advance so you know what diseases you may be exposed to while traveling. Some countries require you to show proof of vaccinations before entering. (For example, I had to get my yellow fever vaccination before traveling to Africa.) Check out the Center of Disease Control Website for more information. If you’re from the UK, check out FitforTravel.
10. Take out travel insurance
Accidents happen; that’s why it’s imperative to have travel insurance. I, personally, had to learn this the hard way, when my traveling companion got sick with pneumonia in Salar de Uyuni. Since we were in a VERY remote part of Bolivia with no access to healthcare, he had to be brought across the border to Chile, where he spent 5 days in the hospital before recovering. We had no money to pay for the hospital bill, and were fortunate to have a friend lend us money from abroad. Travel insurance would have at least covered the expenses and saved us the sanity of that hospital bill. (Lesson learned!) There are several reputable travel insurance companies, including World Nomads and Columbus Direct.