Travel is exhausting – our bodies are stressed by airplane germs, long days of touring and unusual foods. After falling sick on several of our adventures, we learned to be proactive. Some health challenges are impossible to avoid, but we’ve found a few simple ways to stay healthy and fit while traveling.
The best defense is a good offense.
Boost your Immunity
Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables for a week before you plan to travel. Your body will draw lots of important nutrients from a healthy diet and will be better prepared to handle stress. We have begun to take Emergen-C before a long flight. Usually one dose the day before and another at the airport. The extra vitamin C and antioxidants has kept us healthy so far!
To prevent cramping and other symptoms of dehydration, keep your electrolytes in balance. We carry packets of Gatorade powder and add them to our water bottles on long flights as well as after a hot or very active day.
Clean those tray tables
Bring a pack of antibacterial wipes in you carry-on and do a quick swipe of the tray table (and seat-belt buckles) before takeoff. You don’t want to know what previous passengers may have done with that tray table.
Consider wearing/carrying a mask if you’re susceptible to colds and pulmonary infections. Even if you don’t find yourself seated next to a sniffling passenger, the dry, recirculated air on planes can spread germs. I carry a simple paper mask, but there are some silk ones available, some even with travel designs!
Fitness doesn’t take a vacation
Take the stairs
This is our golden rule, especially important on cruises! We may not have time to get In a gym workout but we can get a bit of exercise if we skip the elevator. If you’re cruising on a big ship this may be impossible, but you can certainly do two flights before hitting the elevator button!
Look for an active tour
Exploring by bike is probably our favorite way to see a new place. We enjoyed the Fat Tire Bike tour in Paris so much that we signed up for the Versailles tour before turning in our bikes. Fun and fitness in one!
Most cruise lines offer active excursions – hiking, kayaking, etc. Try something new!
Challenge Yourself with a fitness monitor
Keep up your daily step or calorie goals, or better yet, aim to increase those goals by 10%. This is not a hard thing to do if you’re touring cities, but might require a bit more imagination if you’re on the beach. In that case you could aim for meeting your goals every other day, waking early for a beach walk or bike ride.
Find time for the gym
Most hotels and cruise ships have a gym. Take 30 minutes from your day to exercise. As we usually are doing a lot of walking during the day, I use this time to stretch and do some upper body work.
If you don’t expect to have access to a gym, bring a resistance band so you can do a simple workout in your room. Doesn’t have to be strenuous but it will make you feel virtuous when you head to the buffet.
Food for thought
Unless you are a long term traveler, don’t be super strict with your diet. Food and dining is a big part of every culture and you should explore that just as you’d explore the arts and history.
But be careful with street food. Locals may have no issue with foods offered by street vendors, but it’s just not worth the risk for most of us. An exception here is to take a reputable foodies tour. We loved our Istanbul on Food tour where we sampled authentic Turkish foods with no bad consequences.
Do eat a balanced diet
Fill up on fruits and vegetables when you can. And drink plenty of water, You’ll be able to enjoy the desserts without overindulging.
Pack a Pocket Drugstore
Carry some basic medicine and first aid supplies with you. We prepare a small pouch (cubelet by Tom Bihn) with aspirin, antihistamines, Imodium, throat lozenges, etc., – enough for 24 hours. Though pharmacies are usually easy to find, it’s not something we want to do at 1 am.
Take a day off touring occasionally to allow your body to recover. Traveling is exhausting and a tired body is more susceptible to illness.
How do you stay healthy while traveling? We’re always looking for good suggestions!
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