I’ve written about the health benefits of travel, but it’s also important to be proactive in order to have a healthy trip. It can be easy to become lazy, eat poorly and in general turn into a mobile couch potato, but it’s much easier to seek out healthy living activities that not only keep us feeling good, but add new experiences to our travel adventures.
1. Walking – Ok, this is a pretty easy one. Whenever I travel, I suddenly turn into an Olympic level speed walker, at least in my own mind. Even if I’m not at that level, I always walk much more while traveling than I do at home. Rather than just a practical necessity, walking tours and even hikes are a great way to get up close and personal with the travel destination.
One of my favorite walks is the Jaffa walk in Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv takes advantage of its seaside location through a comprehensive beach walk, extending for miles along the Mediterranean. When I first arrived, I stood on the walkway for a few minutes, soaked in the smell of the sea and the sounds of families playing on the beach as the sun slowly set. To my left in the distance I could see a citadel perched high on the cliffs capped off by an imposing clock tower; Jaffa.
Jaffa is one of the oldest ports in the world, if not the oldest. This ancient town is not only where Jonah left to find his whale but was also the port of entry for the famous cedars of Lebanon, used in the construction of both the First and Second Temples of Jerusalem.
After a leisurely walk, the cool ocean breezes taking the edge off of an otherwise warm evening, I found a cliffside restaurant with full views of the Tel Aviv skyline. I sat back with a beverage and just admired the remarkable city. The beauty and serenity of the beach walk makes it a fun experience for anyone.
2. Biking – I haven’t always been a big fan of biking around town, but in recent years my perception has changed and I now love this activity as a different way of not only getting around town, but enjoying some sightseeing at the same time. Depending on the city you visit, biking can be very cheap or even free, and the experiences they afford are so much better than using a cab, bus or even metro. One of my favorite rides is on the Hawaiian island of Lana’i.
Lana’i has long been known as the island where even Hawaiians go to get away from it all. In addition to sandy beaches and the quaint, pineapple plantation era Lana’i City, you can also find one of the best mountain biking trails in the state. In the forested and lush Lana’i highlands is the twelve mile Munro Trail, named after one of the early pioneers on the island. Bike up to the impressive Koloiki Ridge with magnificent views of Maunalei gulch as well as nearby Maui and Molokai. If it’s the rainy season, the trail can be tricky to navigate, so check with the hotel before starting the trek. If you’re lucky you might even spot a reclusive mouflon or axis deer.
3. Water sports – I’m not sure if I was a sailor in a former life, but there is nothing I enjoy more than doing anything in, on or near the water. Wherever I travel, I usually seek out these experiences and do everything I can to discover the aquatic wonders of my travel destination. Not only are these experiences good exercise, they’re usually a lot of fun. One of my all time favorites was in the Galapagos.
You wouldn’t expect to find penguins in the Galapagos. The island chain is located far off the West coast of South America and straddles the equator. But because of a unique series of crosscutting ocean currents, many things that shouldn’t exist in the Galapagos do. The penguins originally arrived on the Humboldt current, which originates in Antarctica. Unlike some of their polar cousins, these penguins are small and almost scrawny looking. One day I was snorkeling and espied a group of penguins up on the rocks above me. Then, all at once they dove into the water and starting frantically circling around me. They were feeding on small minnows, and I was just getting in the way. I just swam there, amazed at the experience as penguins kept ricocheting off my dive mask and nipped around my toes. In the Galapagos you aren’t allowed to touch the animals, but there’s nothing you can do if they touch you.
What are some ways you combine healthy living with travel?