We often travel to get a break from our everyday routine, from the city pace of life. While we find perspective and liberation on the open road, staying healthy is a common challenge. It can be tough (especially if you’re traveling on a tight budget) to find healthy food in a new country, consistently eat right, and know how to help yourself recover if you’ve taken ill.
Leaving behind a rigid lifestyle is undoubtedly a healthy decision, but it takes some time to find the right balance for yourself when getting used to flexibility. I’ve put together a comprehensive traveler’s guide to staying healthy, because health isn’t just about food.
Immunity is the very first thing to get compromised when we travel. A schedule with no consistency whatsoever (new food, place, people, environment) will put your body through stress even if you may not feel stressed out. Stress exhausts the immune system, leaving us vulnerable to all sorts of health issues. While the last thing we might want is to follow a routine, it’s important to exercise and put nutritious food into your body regularly. Prioritizing these small self-care practices will keep your immunity boosted so you can enjoy yourself!
Exercise everyday, or at least 5 days a week. This could be even 30 minutes of stretching or yoga in the morning, walking up hundreds of steps to a temple you’re visiting, strolling around for a few hours exploring a town, swimming, or hiking through nature—so much variety! If you’re staying in once play for an extended period of time, I’d recommend signing up for a local martial arts or yoga class. Meeting others and exercising with a group helps sustain motivation and deepens your connection with a place.
It can be challenging and frustrating to find fresh, healthy food for a decent price when you’re on the move. But it’s actually not that difficult if you make it a point not to eat out all the time. Go to the local market and buy fresh produce. Eat your fruits in the morning before anything else. Even if you’re eating a salad or a healthy meal at a restaurant, it’s going to be significantly more expensive and less healthy than if you were to make it yourself. As a solution, you can choose to book a home stay instead of a hotel. You’ll have access to home cooked food and could cook for yourself/ with your host.
Snacks are crucial when traveling. In moments of desperation, a small bag of nuts or dates that have been long forgotten at the bottom of your bag can be a lifesaver. Avoid processed foods and always keep nutrient dense nibbles on hand.
Supporting your mental health goes hand in hand with eating and exercising. If you’re active and eating well, your mood will reflect that. While traveling in good spirits stress factors will be sure to pop up. But don’t worry, you can manage them in a healthy way.
If you’re going through something emotional or stressful, or even if you’re not, try and give yourself time to engage in activities that you love. It could be reading poetry, catching some live music, a film, or a sports game, playing a team sport, or even meditating. Whatever it is that you need to release stress (which you might have been carrying with you from before), put some importance on doing it.
Finding personal space while traveling can definitely require some deliberate effort. Even if you’re traveling alone, you could get swept up in chatting with people or meeting people all the time, and it can be exhausting. Remembering to take some time just for yourself (that doesn’t necessitate sitting in a room alone) is so important in staying healthy.
Maintaining relationships and friendships is sometimes a huge pain when you’re in your own flow, far away from everyone you know and love. This is your time to form new bonds, but you don’t want to disconnect from the old ones. Many travelers blog to keep their friends and family posted, but sometimes it’s nice to send personal messages to people. Have you experienced something that reminded you of someone? Drop them a line, it won’t take long. A short message can go a long way and perpetuate your relatability.
Staying connected to the world might be important to you. Social media is not really the best place to find out what’s going on; bookmark your favourite editorials, news and art sources, and online magazines to stay informed.
Last but not least. Please take care of your surroundings. Being healthy isn’t just about what’s within, but also what you put out there. Respecting localities perpetuates a healthy environment for all. We would all appreciate courtesy from fellow travelers and should give them the same as well. Travel responsibly. I’m giving you a small checklist to show you how simple practices can reduce your impact on the planet as a traveler.
- avoid animal attractions—riding elephants and petting chained tigers is supporting animal cruelty. There’s no grey area here, and there are so many humane ways to experience wildlife.
- carry a refillable water bottle, don’t buy disposable plastic bottles
- get yourself a reusable box (with utensils) to fill up if you’re buying street food or getting takeaway
- bring cloth carry bags for shopping in markets or picking up groceries
- take public transport if possible and convenient
- say no to straws
It may seem like developing wellness habits while you travel takes a lot of effort, but once you adopt certain practices, it’ll become second nature. Healthy travels are happy travels.
This post was contributed by our guest author Hanna.
Hanna is a health chef who finds joy and fulfillment in reconnecting people with their bodies and facilitating the development of their strength, sensitivity, and responsibility in leading healthful lifestyles. She offers a personal and nutritious culinary experience that impacts people - in taste and nurturance.