Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but it is increasingly important to stay healthy when I travel. Gone are the days of being able to hike all day without feeling the pain the next day, but here are a few ways to stay healthy while on the road.
1. What you carry matters. This one is important personally because I have suffered back pain over the years and have to be particularly careful when I travel. If you’re anything like me, you have a bunch of items you like to carry around with you while sightseeing. Guide books, water, journal – it all adds up to a fair amount of weight. That’s why it’s really important to make sure you have the right daypack. If you use a standard backpack, make sure it offers lumbar support and has straps that go across your chest or waist. This will help with the weight distribution. If you use an over the shoulder bag, like a messenger bag, make sure to switch shoulders every few hours otherwise you’ll be unable to walk by the end of the day. If you are traveling with your significant other or friend, consolidate all of your items into one bag and share the bag lugging responsibilities.
2. Food is important. Food plays an important role in how we feel and function on a daily basis, but this is especially true when traveling. Start out the day well with a healthy, but not too large, breakfast. Many hotels include complimentary breakfasts but that doesn’t mean you should go overboard. Keep it healthy and light and you’ll have enough energy to start your travels without feeling bloated or sluggish. Also be sure to grab some yogurt in the morning. The probiotics in yogurt help regulate our
digestive track, which is crucial when visiting foreign countries. I always have yogurt when traveling and (knock on wood) have never had any intestinal troubles. Also be sure to pack some snacks for the day. Not only is it cheaper than stopping at cafes along the way, but light snacks will help fuel your sightseeing throughout the day.
3. Hydration. Hydration is essential for all travelers and it starts onboard the plane. Flying is a dehydrating experience so make sure to stay away from alcohol and instead grab some water or juice from the beverage cart. If you’re on a long haul flight, make sure you have a glass of water every hour or so.
While sightseeing, also be sure to pack enough water or Gatorade in your daypack. Even if it’s not particularly hot outside, if you are on a busy travel schedule you’re going to become dehydrated faster and having water on hand will help keep you healthy and active.
4. Stretching/exercise. You may laugh at this one since if you’re on a busy travel schedule then you are surely walking all day long. But that constant activity is probably not the norm for you and you need to help your body adjust to it. Before leaving the hotel in the morning, take five minutes to stretch, just as if you were preparing for a run. Repeat this when you return in the afternoon and follow by a hot shower if you can. Stretching, light exercise or yoga will help your body adjust to the suddenly high levels of walking by preventing cramps and pulled muscles and keep you going longer.
5. Rest! This is hard for most tourists to do, but it is essential that you take time to rest. I know you’re in Paris and I know you want to see it all, but you can’t and there is no reason to push yourself beyond your limits. By taking a siesta in the afternoon or just spending some time in a park or café, you are giving your body the time it needs to rest and recharge. From my own experience, I know that I keep a very busy schedule while on a trip and if I didn’t take small breaks every few hours I would get sick or worse. So relax, you’re on vacation after all.