1. Don’t Take Any Precautions – Travel is a big deal for most of us yet it always surprises me to see how few health precautions some people take before embarking on a fantastic adventure. Preparation starts well before your trip with a daily training regimen. If you don’t already, start exercising before you leave town. It doesn’t have to be an intense workout, but getting in better cardiovascular shape will help you get the most out of your vacation. If you take any medications, be sure to have current prescriptions in hand and your meds should all be in the appropriately marked containers. Touch base with your doctor before leaving town not just to let he or she know your plans, but to see if there are any special precautions you should take before the trip. In some cases this could be as extreme as a vaccination and in others it may just mean a special supplement.
2. Eat Tons of Airport Food – In my best Bill Clinton voice, I feel your pain. It’s been a long day, you’re hungry and as you scamper off to your connecting gate you catch a sniff of something. It’s sweet, heavenly and nearly irresistible: Cinnabon. It’s not alone, nearby is Auntie Anne’s pretzels and Burger King, giant Frappuccino’s from Starbucks and a heavenly looking sandwich from Chili’s 2 Go. Airports do not typically feature very many healthy food options and for those of us on the go, they can be a disaster waiting to happen. Eating properly when you travel, whether it is for work or pleasure, is vitally important. Aside from the obvious health benefits of not consuming 1,500 calories of frosted pastries, eating well will keep you energized and help prevent you from getting sick. At most airports around the world you can find something healthy, or at least not as bad for you, to eat. Sometimes they’re stand-alone establishments like Wraps To Go and other times it’s just knowing how to order. Eating at Chili’s does not mean you have to have a grease soaked burger. Instead, get a salad or grilled chicken breast. A few simple decisions when you’re traveling through airports will help keep you healthy and more importantly enable you to enjoy the rest of your trip.
3. Forget To Exercise – Many people make exercise a part of their daily routine. For some this may mean an intense workout, for others it’s yoga or a walk around the block. Sadly, and strangely, some of us tend to fall out of this all too important routine when we travel. I know I’ve been guilty of telling myself that walking around town all day is enough exercise, but sometimes that’s not true. We all need at least thirty minutes a day to be alone and break a sweat. By itself, walking around town may not be enough, usually sustained physical effort is needed for a proper workout. Obviously, this will help with your physical health, but it’s also great for your mental health. Travel is stressful, particularly when traveling with someone else. We get tired, frustrated and fights usually occur. A few minutes of Zen every day will do wonders for your mental well-being.
4. Skip the Water and Grab the Beer – I like a beer or glass of wine like the next person, but I do not abide by heavy drinking when flying. The very act of flying is itself a very dehydrating experience and is only compounded by drinking alcohol. Particularly important on long haul flights, constant hydration is essential in order to keep healthy. It doesn’t stop at the end of the flight though, I know I forget to drink enough water or sports drink when I’m racing around a new town sightseeing, and I usually pay the price. I get headaches, I feel bad and run the risk of getting sick before the end of the adventure. It’s amazing that something as simple as regularly drinking water can be so important, but it really is.
5. No Sleep – Travel, no matter where you go, can be an exhausting experience, so be sure to get plenty of sleep. I know you want to see and do everything but you can’t, so take it easy and treat your body well. As you slow down you’ll probably also have a more enjoyable trip anyway. Being well rested starts on the flight, especially if it’s a long-haul. If the flight is overnight, it’s important to try to get into your normal nightly routine if at all possible. Sleeping, even a little bit, will work wonders as you start the trip. When in the destination, make sure your hotel room is conducive to sleeping. Ask for a room away from street noise and disruptive guests. Make sure the pillows are to your liking. Personally, I always request a nice foam pillow. Just like on the flight, try to stick to your nightly routine as much as you can. If you read for twenty minutes before nodding off, keep that routine on your trip. Finally, don’t give into jet lag. I know the feeling very well; you arrive early, didn’t sleep the night before and desperately want a nap. Giving in to your exhaustion though will only prolong your jet lag and will have a negative impact on your trip. On your first day stay up as close to your normal sleep time as possible. A couple of nights of a ‘normal’ schedule will have you up in running in no time.
What are some ways you stay healthy while traveling?
14 thoughts on “Five Ways To Be an Unhealthy Traveler”
oh wow! didn’t follow any of these when i was traveling, explains the constant headache
I never eat dinner on an overnight long haul. Usually, I eat when I normally do, drink a lot of water and take something to make me sleepy about a half hour before boarding. By the time I’m settled in and have gone to the loo and have my blanket and Bucky in place – I’m able to fall asleep until its time to get freshened up for my new adventure. I rarely have jet lag and I believe keeping hydrated is key
I would add, for most people, “pick up the local color by picking up locals”….but then again it’s something I’ve never been able to resist so I’m not one to pass judgment.
My twice-weekly airport visits offer plenty of exercise opportunities. I take stairs whenever available, walk to concourses instead of taking trains, and stroll around instead of sitting at my gate – all while carrying my bags. I don’t get much formal exercise during the week at hotels, so any little bit of exercise I can get while traveling helps.
One reason I like to use rail over car rentals whenever possible is the fact it forces you to walk, a lot. I usually lose weight when traveling abroad.
Yup! I can completely relate
I’m a big advocate of jogging when I travel. Not only does it keep me in an exercise routine and help combat jetlag (critical on transPacific trips), but it completely immerses me in a new city and help me get my bearings. Heck, I believe it in so much that I encouraged Context to start offering “running tours” in Rome, Paris, and several other cities. You’d be surprised how popular they are.
Thanks Paul and that’s great about the running tour. I could’ve used that after taking the Paris food tour with you all! :)
I am so guilty of all 5 of these at one time or another during my travels. It is TERRIBLE but true. I replace my yoga and hope that my hiking, and temple tramping makes up for it, But I know it DOESNT all the time. And I can’t help but gorge on the cinnabun in the airports! Great article
Matt, I can relate well to this post. I’ve been a repeat offender of points 2, 3 & 5 especially as I’ve struggled to maintain a healthy balanced life juggling a full-time job and blogging duties. I’ve gained quite a bit of weight and it really hit me recently when I couldn’t fit into my jeans. I’m going to take a 100 day challenge to eat healthy and exercise daily. I’m hoping to form some positive habits for when I finish my full-time job and hit the road indefinitely next year.
That’s a great idea! It’s hard to stay healthy at home and doubly so on the road. The worst food is usually the easiest and cheapest, which doesn’t help.
Ha! That alcohol one was written for me, I think. I’ve only JUST started my travels, but one of the things I’ve found that helps, like you mentioned, is exercise. I take a small exercise band with me now anywhere I go and during downtime or when I’m having a creative block, I bust it out and do some exercises. I’m also a fan of pushups and situps. You don’t even have to leave the room to get your blood flowing! Solid tips my man.
Good one! I don’t believe you need to break a sweat everyday for thirty minutes to keep healthy, but any form of sports will do. Including yoga and walking. I always try to make myself do 12 minute HIIT trainings, because they are short and effective but I hate them so much that I don’t really want to :P
it’s not so much the sweat, but a sustained increase in heartbeat is important.
Comments are closed.