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Healthy Holidays: Look After Yourself When You’re Traveling

The winter is almost behind us, and, with an element of blind optimism, the summer vacation season is stretching out in front of us. After hibernating for three months, the itchy feet are really starting to take hold, and travel fantasies are in full swing. It’s a sad truth, though, that through the excitement of travelling, we have a tendency to overlook the important aspects of staying healthy throughout the trip. Illness and injury can really put a dampener on an adventure, so it pays to be careful. Here are some things to keep in mind, and ensure a drama-free vacation.


Don’t skip your beauty sleep

In all the excitement, it can be so easy to end up sleep deprived, and you’ll end up crashing and burning. With all the travelling, changing time zones, and dragging luggage around, you need more sleep than you might otherwise – you’re expending more energy after all. Listen to your body, if it wants a nap, an early night, or a lie in, let it. It might mean missing one sight, but when you’re tired your immune system is compromised, so you could be exposing yourself to a whole load of bugs and bacteria – that’d put a real dampener on your travel plans.


Research your destination

Everywhere you could possibly visit has its own nuances. Sights you just have to see and food you have to try, but also things that every traveller should probably avoid. It could be an insalubrious area in which travellers are regularly mugged, or food which is likely to give you a stomach bug, but other people’s experiences and expertise are the best things to guarantee yourself a safe and healthy holiday. Don’t just read the tour books – personal reviews and experiences have the best information.


Don’t forget your medication

It seems straightforward, but it’s amazing how many people go travelling and forget to take enough of their medication to last them the whole time. Moral of the story: always pack enough, and maybe a bit extra, just in case. The same is the case for contraceptive pills or similar. It’s even possible for women to delay your period with norethisterone while travelling, which is great for avoiding all the fuss and discomfort. Ensuring your vaccinations are up to date to protect you is your own responsibility, but could be the difference between life and death.

Eat regular meals

When you’re passing through time zones, travelling at crazy hours, and trying to fit everything into a short space of time, eating becomes one of the first things to become erratic, along with sleep. Eating a good, balanced, and regular diet is the main source of energy needed for adventure, so it needs to be a priority. A good, healthy breakfast is an absolute must. Oats are the best, but even if it’s grabbing a croissant or some eggs from a nearby cafe, you’ll be doing yourself a massive favor, and you’ll see the benefits throughout the day.


Try to make your own meals

It can be tricky, but the more you make your own meals, the more you’re able to pay attention to your nutrient intake – it’s far more economical too, if you’re travelling on a budget. Before setting off, spend some time researching easy meals to make with minimal equipment – even if it’s packing your own sandwiches each morning before your day of adventure, you’ll save yourself significant amounts of money, and you’ll feel better for it too.


Worship the hand sanitizer

With all sorts of bugs and bacteria that your body won’t be immune to, keeping hand sanitizer and wet wipes on hand at all times can help to keep unfortunate tummy bugs to a minimum. Use them before every meal, and whenever you visit the restroom; even if there are full handwash facilities available, you can’t necessarily trust the cleanliness of the water. These are particularly great for helping you to feel a bit more human after hours of travelling in hot and uncomfortable conditions – remember there is no shame in a wet wipe shower if you need it.


Don’t forget the sunblock

Wherever you’re travelling, unless it’s Seattle or the UK, chances are you’re going to get a bit of sunshine, even if it’s cold. There’s nothing worse than being caught unaware and landing yourself with some awful sunburn when you’re thousands of miles from home. Ensure that applying sun lotion is part of your morning routine, and keep some nearby in hand luggage for top-ups throughout the day. While face and neck are the most important, some people find that their scalp is particularly susceptible, and rely on scalp sunblock or a hat. Either way, you don’t want to get caught short and spend the coming week doing your best tomato impression, if you can help it.


Remember to hydrate

When you’re travelling, even in cooler climates, although especially in hot countries, hydration is absolutely key. Even if it’s not convenient to have to keep stopping to find restrooms during travel, the alternative is pretty grave. Keep a bottle on you at all time, and always assume that you’ll have no way to get more water when travelling a long distance, so make sure you start your journey with enough water to go the whole distance.


Watch your alcohol intake

While travelling is about living fast and loose, letting your hair down, and experiencing as many things are you possibly can in a fairly short space of time, it’s important to be mindful of what you’re doing to your body. Not only are alcoholic drinks packed full of sugar and calories, but you could be putting your safety at risk by drinking in large quantities in an area you’re not familiar with. Try to drink in areas you know, try to stick around other travellers and always ensure you’re aware of how to get back to your lodgings at the end of the night.


Travelling the world can be an incredible experience, but it’s always better when your health cooperates. Being mindful of bugs, eating properly, and getting enough sleep will all contribute to better travelling health, allowing the trip to run much more smoothly.

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