Staying healthy and fit while you are on holiday can be achieved by taking simple precautions and steps to avoid the risk of illness. We live in a fast paced society and for most people, their 2 or 3 week annual holiday is the only chance they have of totally switching off and relaxing.
Holidays can be exciting and enjoyable, but add in jetlag, lack of sleep, too much rich food and alcohol and we can be left feeling bloated, headachey and tired before we even get through the first week. Mishaps are inevitable, but there are ways that we can minimise the risk of feeling unwell to make sure we have an amazing trip, and this starts before we even set foot on the plane.
A Guide To Staying Healthy While Travelling
A happy body requires both physical and mental health. We all know how to take action to become slimmer and fitter physically, but in reality how many of us put in any hard graft to maintain or improve our mental health?
Travelling, while enjoyable can also leave us feeling stressed, anxious, tired and in poor shape. We find ourselves out of our normal routine, disrupting our eating and drinking patterns and our bodies can start fighting back and become unbalanced.
Acknowledging how disruption of our normal habits can impact on our bodies and trying to achieve the right balance is the key to staying healthy.
1. Pre-Travel Routine
In the weeks leading up to your trip try and lead as healthy a routine as possible to strengthen your immune system by eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, getting fresh air and plenty of rest.
- Discuss any health concerns or worries with your doctor and stock up on any prescription medication that you normally take.
- If you need vaccinations for your trip be sure to allow plenty of time to get these organised, together with malaria tablets if required.
2. Take a Basic First Aid Kit
Being healthy on the road is all about being prepared in the event of unplanned mishaps and this includes being armed with some basic first-aid items. Some items that I usually pack, depending on my destination, include the following :
- Standard pain killers/anti-inflammatories such as Paracetamol and Ibuprofen
- Anti-Diarrhoea tablets such as Imodium
- Antihistamine tablets
- Insect repellant (DEET)
- Motion sickness remedies
- Antiseptic wipes and hand gel
- Aloe vera for sunburn
- Tea Tree and lavender essential oils
- Cold/Flu/Indigestion/Throat tablets – being on holiday doesn’t stop you catching a common cold.
3. Reduce Jet Lag
Taking long haul flights can be exhausting especially if you do not manage to get any sleep. But even if you do, chances are that you will suffer physical discomfort, headaches and a touch of constipation.
The key for not arriving at your holiday destination in bad shape physically and mentally is to ensure you travel with as much comfort and calm as is possible.
- Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Stay away from any beverages with alcohol or caffeine in them.
- Set your watch to the time at your destination as soon as you begin your flight.
- Move around every hour or so and flex your feet while sitting.
- Try to get as much sleep as possible.
4. Be Mindful Of What You Eat
Remember to eat everything in moderation and try and stick as closely as possible to your normal diet. Your stomach will thank you!
Always start the day with a healthy and filling breakfast to avoid eating sugary snacks by mid morning. If you are staying in a Hotel, be sensible with buffets as this can lead to piling your plate with food because you want to get your moneys worth. Instead, consider having a bowl of fruit with yogurt, cereal and finish off with an omelette.
If you are self-catering try and cook at least one well balanced meal a day, eating plenty of fibre to avoid constipation, and plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Other factors to be aware of dependent on your destination are the following :
- Make sure food is well cooked, good food hygiene is observed and avoid salads and peeled fruit unless you prepare them yourself.
- If trying street food always follow the locals and choose a stall with a long queue, as this usually means the food will be fresh.
- Trust your nose and if it doesn’t smell right it probably won’t taste right.
- Eat the local food and not the non-western version of western food.
- Remember that anything steamed or boiled has less calories than food that is fried.
- If you are travelling with someone you can share portions so you don’t overeat.
5. Wash your Hands
Help prevent the spread of germs and bacteria by washing your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water, especially before meals. If water is not available then use hand sanitizing gel or antiseptic wipes. Not everyone has a high level of personal cleanliness which is how germs spread.
6. Keep Hydrated
Your body requires water to survive. It uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste, lubricate joints and transport nutrients around the body. It is important to stay hydrated otherwise you can suffer from headaches, constipation, fuzzy head and poor concentration.
Keep a bottle of water with you during the day so that you remember to keep hydrated which is particularly important in hot climates and if you are exercising.
7. Stay Active
Staying active will benefit you both physically and mentally and is easy to incorporate into your day. Walk everywhere, take the stairs instead of the lift, visit the hotel gym, perform push ups, crunches etc in your room and just keep moving.
8. Get Plenty Of Rest
If you don’t give your body enough rest and sleep you will put yourself at risk of picking up colds and general viral infections as you will become run down. Travel can be tiring and your usual sleep patterns can be interrupted, making you weary and feeling below par. You can only push yourself so far until your body cries out for what it needs – rest and time to recuperate!
9. Protect Yourself From The Sun & Heat
Living in the UK, most of us only see real sun for a prolonged period when we go abroad, when many sit for 2 weeks on a beach in the heat of the sun. We all know the effect that sun rays have on our skin and it is vitally important to take sensible precautions to avoid our skin getting burnt and suffering sun stroke.
When outdoors, apply a sunscreen (minimum SPF15), reapply every 2-3 hours, avoid the midday sun, wear a hat, sunglasses and drink plenty of water. If you are travelling to an area where mosquitoes are prevalent then be sure to apply a mosquito repellent containing DEET.
10. Be Sensible
We often have a multitude of exciting “adventure” activities to try when on holiday and whilst these can be great fun, it is important to show care and consideration about the choices we make.
It can be irritating and annoying in the UK with our rules and regulations regarding health and safety, but when you travel to other parts of the world you are reminded how lucky this makes us.
Enjoy yourself and have fun, but be mindful of any risks that are involved with lack of safety precautions and choose wisely.
Take Care Of Your Mental Health
1. Switch Off Devices
Part of being away from work is about switching off from the strains and distractions that our minds are bombarded with on a daily basis.
Having a phone attached to your ear, constantly checking emails or texting does not achieve this senario and if this is how you are spending your time then you are missing out on so much.
Make the conscious decision to either leave devices in your hotel room or at home – yes I did just suggest the unthinkable! You need to mentally switch off in order to restore balance and refresh your body. If this thought leaves you feeling horrified then a) it shows how reliant you have become on your gadgets and b) you need to decide on a schedule and stick to it.
Set yourself a strict limit each morning and/or evening for screen looking time. Travel and holidays are supposed to leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, not merely continuing your normal routine but in different surroundings. Give it a try!
2. Take Time To Reflect
Our mental health is an essential part of our health and well being. It is about how we think and feel, our outlook on life and how we are able to cope with life’s challenges. Sometimes it is only when we are away from our normal routine of “coping” that we can take the necessary time to reflect, analyse and absorb situations we have experienced on a mental basis.
Take time to do the things that make you happy and have a calming effect on your mindset, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation and yoga. It is important for all of us to nurture our mental health and find ways that make us feel less stressed and anxious.
4. Adapt To Your Situation and Enviroment
Being outside of our normal habitat and routine, while enjoyable, can also leave many feeling stressed, overwhelmed, panicky and anxious and the key to dealing with such feelings is to first acknowledge them.
Pace yourself and don’t rush around from place to place in a whirlwind, because that is how it will make an anxious person feel, rushed and stressed out.
Adapt to new places and situations by being as flexible to change as you can be and take time out for yourself.
None of us can predict what will happen in life, including when we travel, however with common sense and following some simple steps it is possible to reduce and minimise your chances of falling ill when away from home. Thus you can stay healthy and happy and return from your trip feeling relaxed.
How about you? Do you have any tips for ways that you maintain your health when travelling?
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