How to Stay Healthy While Travelling

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There is nothing worse than going on holiday and getting sick. You have saved and waited a long time for your trip. The big day arrives, and you reach your destination, but a day later you get sick! And the fun continues without you while you recover. It is never fun being sick. But if you get sick on holidays, you are wasting your money on a trip you don’t get to experience. For this reason, it is imperative to stay healthy while travelling. Further, when holidays offer so much temptation, it is easy to slip into unhealthy living. 

Consequently, we have compiled the ten best ways you can stay healthy while travelling. Some of these are common sense, but a reminder always helps. You don’t need to miss out on the good times when you remember these 10 tips on how to stay healthy while travelling.

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1. Prevention & Optimal Health

Staying healthy on holiday starts before you leave. See your doctor for a check-up to make sure you are in optimal health. Have a chat about the recommended vaccinations for the country you are going to. Further, read Lonely Planet’s health section and then make your own decision about being immunized. We have travelled in Asia for so long we do as the locals do and don’t take any vaccinations. However, that’s not to say when we go to South America or Africa that we will not consider the advised shots.

We always travel with Lonely Planet for every new country we visit. Travel blogs are great, but Lonely Planet includes comprehensive destination information as well as the essentials like health. Regardless of which source you use, be sure to read up on the country you are visiting and be aware of any potential health risks.

Travelling with vitamins is one of the ways we maintain our health. We travel with multivitamins, magnesium and vitamin c and we take these regularly. If we feel a flu-like illness coming on, we have zinc and echinacea. We recommend you start taking vitamins a few weeks before your trip and start eating healthy, get lots of sleep and drink lots of water. Perhaps even go on a detox. There’s plenty of time to drink tasty cocktails and wines on your holiday.

*Travel Bugs World is reader-supported. This blog post contains affiliate links (meaning we may get a small commission if you buy through our links.) You won’t pay any more if you use these links, and it helps support the site. We Thank You.

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2. Sleep – Get Enough!

To be in top condition for your holiday, be sure you get lots of rest and sleep. Do this both before your holiday and during it. We hear of many people trying to finish all their work before they go on holidays. There are late nights spent working as they try making up for the time they are away. So they start their holiday exhausted.

Don’t be exhausted. You can’t always do everything. Get lots of rest and sleep before your holiday. And make sure you do the same during the holiday. Your body needs physical rest after flights. It also needs recovery after lots of walking that is typical when sightseeing. After a good nights sleep, you will have a more fabulous day sightseeing the next day. 

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3. Preventing Flu – No. 1 Way to Stay Healthy While Travelling

So you are off to a roaring start and feeling healthy and rested. Catching planes, trains and buses leave you susceptible to germs and illnesses. We always travel with a scarf and wrap ourselves up with it on transport. If it is cold, it keeps us warm. If it’s sunny, it offers protection from the sun.

We also travel with face masks. And call us germophobes, but we breathe our own air and protect ourselves from people coughing and sneezing. We started wearing them after we had arrived from Sydney to Thailand, on two separate occasions, with the flu. We feel a little embarrassed that we look like freaks. And we know there is controversy about whether they work or not, but since we started wearing them, we haven’t gotten sick. And now with the outbreak of the coronavirus, people are more cautious, and face masks are more common.  

Further, everything you touch on a plane, bus or train has had many hands touch it. You’ve heard it repeatedly, wash your hands! These words are most significant when travelling. Make sure to do it as often as you can and always before eating. Additionally, carry wet wipes and hand sanitizer in your bag. Use them liberally during flights and tours, especially if you are touching things like handrails and when there is no soap and water available. Also, avoid touching your face. And if someone is coughing nearby, walk away and aim for at least 1.5 metres space between you. Your priority is, to stay healthy while travelling.

Additionally, be ready for temperature changes if you are travelling from one season to another. If you are travelling in winter, pack the right clothes and bring layers, warm hats, gloves, socks and waterproof gear.

Rather skip to the holiday?
You will love our 8 reasons to go to Thailand’s Koh Phangan Island now!

4. Drink Lots of Water 

Water is life, and staying hydrated is essential to your health. When you are travelling, you are in a situation where you are dehydrating your body. The air-conditioning on the plane is dehydrating. Long plane trips combined with alcohol are extremely dehydrating to your body. So have a healthy start, say no to alcohol and instead drink lots of water on the plane. It makes an immense impact on staying healthy while travelling.

Incidentally, don’t forget taking walks and stretching, helps you avoid blood clots during long flights. 

At your destination, you will find activities like walking around tourist attractions can make you dehydrated, especially if it is hot. Carry a bottle of water around with you wherever you go and be sure to stay hydrated.  Also, if you are in Asia, don’t forget the hydration benefits of coconuts.

Importantly, be informed about the water situation in the country you are visiting. In some countries the tap water is undrinkable, so you will have to buy bottled water. In countries where you can’t drink the water, be careful of salads and fruits. Always wash them with bottled water or peel your fruit. And beware of adding ice to your drinks, as it is often tap water.

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5. Food – To Eat or Not to Eat!

Food is the most important thing for staying healthy while travelling and for your budget. When travelling to a new country, you want to sample the cuisine. You often find the cheapest food is junk food. Consequently, you end up eating lots of cheap and delicious pastries, especially in Europe.

Follow the recommendation of always starting the day with eating breakfast. Eating brekky will give you energy for the day. However, stay away from the hotel’s unhealthy bacon, eggs and pastries and try eating healthily. It is easy to make a breakfast of muesli with milk and fruit. 

When we get to our destination, we hunt down the local supermarket and stock up on food for snacks and breakfast. We will often find ready-made salads and other healthy prepared meals. As budget travellers, this saves us money instead of eating out, and it enables us to eat healthier. We also buy lots of fruit which helps us avoid unhealthy snacks while sightseeing.

If we are on a lengthier trip, we make our own meals. Further, it’s fun to go shopping at the local markets for supplies and live like a local. Sometimes we will prepare our food and then go somewhere for a relaxing picnic. 

Additionally, be choosy where you eat. Make it a rule to stay away from the fatty fast-food options and research places that offer healthier options. Eating healthy when travelling requires discipline, but you will feel and look better.

Most importantly, without being too scared to try the food, be cautious of where you eat. If there aren’t many people in a restaurant or food stall, you could be eating meat that has sat in their fridge for a couple of weeks. We make sure a place looks hygienic, and the food is freshly cooked and not pre-cooked then warmed. Also, we love street food, and we always eat it. By being cautious, we rarely get sick.

We recommend you ask other travellers you meet where they ate and what they enjoyed and then make your choice. However, if you haven’t travelled a lot in 3rd world countries, you may get sick from food, yet others may not. As an alternative, you can take extra precautions by adopting a vegetarian diet and order cooked vegetables instead of meat.

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6. Exercise Your Body to Stay Healthy While Travelling

At home, it is easy to stick to a routine. On holiday, you may not have access to a gym. Simply throw on your backpack and march that 1-2 miles to your room. You will see more, you will save money by not taking a cab or bus, and you will stay fit. Touring a city is more fun when you are walking as you are experiencing it up close, instead of riding through it in a vehicle. Walk everywhere! It is a great way to stay fit.

If you want to step it up a notch, always take the stairs at your hotel, not the lift. Check out your hotel as it may have a gym. Also, look out for yoga classes, swimming pools or just go for a morning jog. Plus, you can do yoga or morning stretches, and just like at home have a routine that you follow.

We travel with resistance bands and snorkel gear. A jump rope is also lightweight and a great workout. 

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7. Take a Moment & Look After your Emotional Health

Touring is often hard work. Lining up in queues among masses of people jostling for position to take pictures is stressful. It’s necessary to look after your emotional health too.

Allow yourself time to recover from jet lag, culture shock and sensory overload. Take a moment away from the stress of touring and have some alone time, do some deep breathing or do meditation. Take time out and spend a few hours sitting in the park. Stay in your hotel room and read a book, sit on the balcony relaxing or take advantage of resort/hotel facilities. Many larger hotels have day spas that include gyms, massage services and steam rooms.

Another great activity for well-being is hiking. It is good for both your physical and emotional health. Plus you will often find epic views!

Most importantly, pace yourself, slow down and don’t expect too much of yourself or others.

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8. Cut Down on Drinking

This one is hard for us, as we are terrible lushes. And we have spent the last five years merrily eating and drinking our way around the world. However, we have slowly learned we need to do things in moderation. If you drink too much, you may have a hangover, and there goes a fun day of touring. And don’t forget alcohol aids weight gain. Plus, drinking too much affects your long term health.

Yes, we know! You are on holiday and want to drink and party. Just drink in moderation and include a few alcohol-free days. 

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9. Don’t Forget Sunscreen and Insect Repellant

Protect your skin from the sun and wear sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30. And keep reapplying as per instructions, especially if sweating and swimming. Pack a hat and sunglasses too.

Besides that, don’t forget the mosquito repellent, especially if going to areas known for mosquitoes. In some countries we find inferior products, so we always bring our bug spray from home. Also, take extra precautions, like wearing long-sleeved clothes, around the most active hours of dusk till dawn.

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10. Good Sex is Safe Sex

Don’t come home with a souvenir you want to forget. Avoid exposure to STDs or HIVs by practising safe sex. Sexually transmitted diseases do not discriminate and are widespread. Always use condoms. Add them to your first aid kit!   

Read next – How to Always be a Happy Traveller
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BONUS – Be Proactive! 

Carry a basic first aid kit. Things to include:

  • Paracetamol and ibuprofen for headaches, pain, hangovers, fevers or any injuries. 
  • Cold & flu relief medicine (if you usually take them).
  • Motion sickness tablets.
  • Anti-diarrhea medicine. 
  • Adhesive bandages of various sizes.
  • An antibiotic ointment. 
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent.
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Finally, ensure to take out travel insurance before every trip and keep the details on you. We only recently started buying travel insurance. And lucky we did, as we had to rush to a hospital recently after an accident.

It feels like a waste of money, but if there is an emergency, the last thing you want is to worry about costs. We have heard about some nasty accidents that have left people with hefty bills.

We can’t recommend travel insurance strongly enough. Therefore, we have partnered with World Nomads, our preferred insurance provider, to make sure you remember to protect yourself in case of an emergency. Get a quote today.

*Travel Bugs World is reader-supported. This blog post contains affiliate links (meaning we may get a small commission if you buy through our links.) You won’t pay any more if you use these links, and it helps support the site. We Thank You.

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