Are you planning a trip overseas? Travelling abroad can be an incredible experience, but it’s not always easy to keep up the healthy habits while away from home. Different time zones, unfamiliar foods, and busy itineraries can make it really hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

There are also many things that can upset your travel plans when travelling abroad, so it’s important to take the necessary precautions before leaving. 

As a Spoonie, I have to be extra careful with my health while travelling. Spoonies are people living with chronic illnesses / medical conditions and have limited energy reserves. 

But even if you’re not a Spoonie, it’s still important to look after your well-being while travelling. 

Keep reading for my tips on how to stay healthy while travelling.

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Disclaimer: I am not a medical advisor. If you have a chronic illness or are concerned about your health while travelling, be sure to seek medical advice from a doctor.

How Does Travel Affect Your Health?

When we travel, we come across new places and things. That means trying out different foods, water, and unfortunately this might mean dealing with illnesses that we don’t encounter back home. 

Our body meets new germs, testing our immune system, which can ultimately lead to different illnesses as our immunity fights off these invaders. Tropical areas with lots of people pose a higher risk of diseases like malaria or dengue fever, but there are vaccines available for these illnesses. 

Changes in climate – whether it’s hotter or colder than what we’re used to – can also mess with our health. Quick weather changes might make us more prone to catching a cold or worse, under the right conditions. 

And then there’s jet lag. Crossing time zones can throw off our sleep patterns and leave us feeling tired and disorientated, which makes it harder for our bodies to function properly.

Some common health issues that can occur while travelling are:

  • Upset stomach / food poisoning 
  • Dehydration
  • Sunstroke
  • Exhaustion
  • Tropical diseases
  • Injury

Planning & Preparation

Get vaccinated

There are a number of vaccinations recommended before traveling abroad to prevent against infectious diseases and other serious illnesses. Make sure to read up on the different regions of the world before planning your trip to see what vaccinations are recommended.

Then visit your doctor or travel clinic at least 6 weeks before going on a trip overseas, and that you have all the necessary shots. Some vaccinations that you may need for your destination include:

  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Meningococcal meningitis
  • Rabies
  • Tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis
  • Yellow fever vaccination is also sometimes necessary
  • Corona Virus

Get travel insurance

You never know what can happen when you’re travelling. Travel insurance covers unexpected accidents and emergencies that might happen while you’re away.

Getting sick while travelling is an absolute nightmare, but needing to be admitted to hospital without having travel insurance is even worse.

It can be extremely expensive to receive treatment in a foreign country, so it’s always a good idea to get travel insurance before leaving on your trip.

Be prepared: Learn how to protect your trip with World Nomads Insurance

How to stay healthy while travelling

Stay hydrated

When travelling it’s easy to become dehydrated. Make sure you drink plenty of water before your trip and while you’re away

This is especially important in hot climates where you can sweat a lot and lose out on hydration quickly, or in cold climates where the air is dry and you’ll be breathing that in without realising it.

The best way to prevent dehydration is by planning ahead and packing a stainless steel water bottle that you can carry around with you. Most hotels will have bottled water available so you can fill up in the morning and then again in the evening when you return. Best not to drink the tap water in an unknown environment.

Wear compression socks while flying

Long flights can lead to swollen and achy feet, especially for those who are prone to poor circulation or have a history of blood clots. Wearing compression socks can help improve circulation and prevent swelling, making your flight more comfortable.

These socks apply pressure on the legs, helping the blood flow back up towards the heart instead of pooling in the feet. This also helps reduce the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a serious condition where blood clots form in the legs.

Be mindful of what you eat

Part of travelling is the adventure of trying the local cuisine. Sometimes we can go overboard wanting to eat all the food when we travel, but it’s still possible to eat healthy foods while travelling. 

Being in foreign countries with different types of food that you’re not used to can make you sick.

If you’re unsure about the cleanliness of where you’re eating, avoid raw fruits and vegetables as well as unpasteurized cheese and dairy products which could contain harmful bacteria such as listeria. Street foods and local markets can also be risky, so it’s best to stick with established restaurants.

However, don’t be afraid to try new foods in moderation. Just don’t eat anything that you know your body can’t handle, like spicy foods or other types of food that will upset your stomach. If it doesn’t sit right, then don’t eat it!

I always try to pack some healthy snacks for when I’m on the go. This way, if I can’t find a suitable meal or need a quick energy boost, I have some healthy options to tide me over until my next meal. 

Some good travel snacks include protein bars, dried fruits and nuts, jerky, and granola bars. These are all easy to pack and won’t spoil quickly. Plus, they’re great for keeping you energized during long days of exploring.

Masks and hand sanitizer are a must

These are your new best friends! When you’re out and about in a foreign country, make sure you always have a mask on hand to cover your nose and mouth from the dust and pollution and, of course, common viruses. You never know when a new pandemic could hit! 

If you’re visiting somewhere with lots of people like markets or public transport, then it’s also handy to have a good alcohol-based hand sanitizer that you can use before eating or after using public transport. Antibacterial wipes are also a great alternative for keeping your hands clean on the go.

Get enough sleep

Taking flights through different time zones, all the travelling and seeing new sights can take a toll on your body and mind. So make sure to get plenty of sleep before you go out exploring so that you don’t miss out on any of the fun.

If your hotel doesn’t have blackout curtains, then some eye masks are also great to help block out that light if you’re finding it difficult to get some shut-eye.

It’s not just necessary for your physical health, but getting enough sleep is imperative for your mental health while travelling too.

Keep your exercise routine

If you’re used to working out in the gym, it can be difficult to keep up your daily routine while travelling. Some hotels have gyms you can use but if they don’t, there are many exercises you can do in your hotel room instead.

Maintaining your normal routine while you’re travelling can help reduce stress and increase energy levels. This will also give you the motivation to get out there and explore all that your travel destinations have to offer!

Remember to pack a pair of good walking shoes so that you’re always ready to explore, and take advantages of any hiking spots if available to you.

Don’t forget the sunscreen

The sun is stronger at higher altitudes, so make sure to use plenty of sunscreen when you’re up there.

You should also wear proper sunglasses as UV light can damage your eyes and cause vision problems in the future. Just make sure they block out 100% UVA/UVB rays.

Pack a medical kit

When you’re exploring a new place, it can be easy to get cuts and scrapes, and blisters from so much walking. So if you’re planning on doing some hiking or other adventures, then make sure to pack a first aid kit in your luggage so that you don’t need to worry about anything happening while you’re away.

Don’t forget your own prescription medication and any other travel medicine you may need on your travels, such as anti-nausea tablets, motion sickness tablets, insect repellent and pain medication.

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I hope you found these tips helpful. Traveling abroad is a great experience and should be fun, not stressful. So having an idea about how to stay healthy while traveling will help you avoid unnecessary stress have a great time on your vacation.

Remember to pack a first aid kit, drink enough water, try to keep a balanced diet, and most importantly, always listen to your body. It knows when something’s off!

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