While traveling, your body can get into all sorts of crazy.
Different air, different time-zones, different water, different atmosphere, different food. Throw in too much street food, and too much sun, long-haul flights and long days, it’s no wonder people get sick easily.
Despite it all, it doesn’t mean we start packing and dismiss our cravings for a big fat burger, Italian desserts, or the sweet treats sold in night markets. Because, there are little and simple things you can do to stay a little healthier and happier while exploring.
Water, Water and lots of Water
Not drinking water while you are constantly getting into an activity, will leave you sluggish, tired, gives you a dreadful headache, makes you grumpy, short-tempered and not to mention, a pretty crappy travel buddy. Not something you want while you’re off trying to have fun exploring.
But what do I mean by lots of water?
Technically, 2 liters per day. Many people don’t realize that you actually need more especially when involved in strenuous outdoor activities. Even if it means a simple sightseeing in Kuching or in Europe during hot summer months (including colder months too). This was especially apparent to me.
This is why its so important to have a constant supply of sanitized water with you at all times. Especially when you travel to countries that don’t necessarily come with the luxury of drinking clean water from a tap.
I use to think that drinking water as soon as you feel thirsty is an immediate sign that you should start drinking water. I learned later on that if I’m feeling thirsty, it actually means my body has already been needing water for a while! So it’s always good to keep track of your water consumption. You can either keep track of it by using your own water bottle or if you need a more accurate calculation of how much you should consume, use My Daily Balance: Daily Drink Tracker.
O, and do yourselves a favor and go easy on plastic bottles, even if you’re in a country that recycles. I must say, I was guilty of this once upon a time. In fact, once upon a time wasn’t too long ago and I have since invested in a BPA free water bottle. The environment will love you.
Go all the way with fresh fruits and veggies
I know, I know. The five-a-day rule is probably something you quietly cross off from your mental to-do list. While it may seem easy enough to wander around your local Jaya Grocer’s, in some countries and in some trips, it can get a little tough and you might need to try a little harder to find your fruit and veggie.
For some of you who enjoy eating and dining out, pick a place where you can enjoy your most favorite meal. If they have a selection of fruit desserts and veggies, go for it. If that’s how you’ll get your fruits and veggies in, then there shouldn’t be any reason not to. At least you’re guaranteed that you’ll be eating something a little greener and fresher than a pathetic side salad next to your fries.
If you’re traveling on a budget, your fruit and veggie intake are probably easier. But some backpackers or travelers still opt for instant noodles and instant pasta meals from convenient stores and would rather skip the cooking bit. But cooking a healthy and nutritious meal while traveling is actually easier and simpler than most people realize —it just takes a little more of your effort!
Another easy way is to find fruit or juice bars where you can get a good serving of smoothies on the go. The only thing to keep note of is sugar. If you travel to Malaysia or to most Southeast Asian countries, fruit juices come with sugar (and I don’t mean fruit bars like Boost Juice or Juice works).
I mean restaurants or fruit hawkers by the streets or in Mamak. You can hardly find a decent fruit juice that serves with no less than 2 tablespoons of sugar. More often than not, you’ll have to ask for “Watermelon Juice with no sugar, please.” If you still feel like skipping these street hawkers, head to local markets to get your fresh fruits and veggie fix.
When you’re at home and not necessarily traveling, experts tend to say that multi-vitamins are usually unnecessary. But when you travel and can barely get an entire fruit or vegetable in your system, multi-vitamins can be a good source of supplementing those crucial body needs.
I know that multi-vitamins can never be a replacement for a balanced diet, but I do know that without the proper nutrients in my body, I can feel crappy. And especially if I’m on the road in a bus or driving, the only main meal of choice I have is Lays chips and a soggy apple until I reach my next stop.
Unless if you were on a road trip and had already planned on getting food supplies from the grocery store, then supplements may not even be necessary. It would just mean you’d be able to stop for a while, get cooking and eating at the back of your combi or station wagon.
But if you’re not one of those road trippers, supplements are highly recommended. Alongside a stuffed first-aid kit and an awesome travel insurance, making room in your luggage or backpack for natural remedies is a sensible thing to do.
Watch your snooze patterns
Late nights, crowded markets, early morning sight-seeing and flights with harsh air flow can definitely throw your sleeping patterns out of whack when you’re setting off on an adventure.
It’s not so bad if you are traveling for months, but it’s a nightmare if you are traveling for just a week or two. The last thing you need is exhaustion and grogginess getting in the way of your short holiday adventures. Who knows when you will get your next chance of holiday, vacation, or downtime for the rest of the year again.
Anyone with ridiculous work shift patterns may feel that fixing a disrupted sleep pattern is much easier said than done and no amount of advice I give you, will magically switch your body clock immediately upon flying into Oslo from Kuala Lumpur.
But know that there are some simple ways you can try; before, during and after your flight so you can adjust easily. A common thing I do before the run up to my trip is, I would always alter my sleeping patterns instead of trying to stay awake until late at night the day before I fly.
It can be tempting to eat everything that’s offered on the plane and start binging with whatever box set your airline has in store. Instead, avoid caffeine, heavy drinks and alcohol. Opt for water. It gets very dry once you’re at high altitude and especially when you’re in long-haul flights. In-flight meals are notoriously dull but if that’s going to keep you hydrated and energized by the time you land, why not.
Alternatively, pack some healthy snacks to eat. I find this extremely useful because in between in-flight meals I tend to get hungry. Some of my favorite snacks would be raisins, almond peanut, and muesli bars. And if you’re feeling tired and sleepy, listen to your body and rest as much as you can.
Just get moving!
Some trips are designed for action-packed activities and busting calories that work the muscle you didn’t recall you had, while others involve flouncing around lavender garden estates, strolling in the streets of Paris, or checking in to restaurants, dancing at music festivals and indulging in greasy street food.
Sure enough one of these activities will leave you happy, possibly a few pounds heavier and a tad bit lazier. As a firm believer in the merits of the latter, we all know that in between the restaurant hops and people watching, there has to be a mix-matched with bike rides, country hikes, and beach runs.
My idea of moving is literally looking for trail walks. I’ve never fancied running, so walking or hiking in the midst of nature and trail walks like Coogee to Bondi in Sydney is one way to get my muscles moving without getting bored. What’s great about trail walks is that a lot of it are easily accessible and without an entry fee or charge.
But what if you’re not a big fan of the outdoors and don’t know how to move your muscles effectively while traveling? Look for local gyms to hit or if you’re staying in a hostel or a guest house, check if they come with a gym or a swimming pool.
And if all else fail, download Nike Training app. I use this app when I can’t get access to a gym or if I feel like staying in. What I love about this app is that you can browse by type of workouts such as athlete workouts, no-equipment workouts, and short workouts. What’s even cooler is, while you workout, the app will guide you and urge you to push through and finish the workouts. It’s kind of like having a workout coach (only virtually) instead of in real-life. And if you want to scrap your virtual coach, you can run your workouts with music you like in the app.
Fortunately, it’s rather easy to get moving while on the road — you just have to remember to do it!
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