Staying healthy while you’re travelling is always important, but never easy. Trust me, as someone travelling with Crohn’s disease, I know.
There’s so much to tempt you: Scandinavian pastries, the Spanish drinking culture, British scones, Asian crepes, American… everything. If you don’t go into a binge-induced Crohn’s flare like me, you might find you start piling on the pounds.
Luckily, I’ve had years of practice to effectively manage my health while travelling (OK, one of those things is to carry a stash of all necessary meds). Here are just some of the things I’ve found to be most effective for anyone trying to keep up their health while gallivanting across the globe.
Well, I didn’t say it would all be rocket science. Sometimes the simplest option is the best course of action for someone looking to ensure they don’t start ballooning from too many exotic dishes.
There are all sorts of different activities out there which you can readily get involved with, but sometimes the best method is the simplest. If you’re on a lazy beachside holiday, break up the lounge chair relaxing by going for a run, a hike, or a cycle. Exercise is also one of the 20 things every long term traveller should do – so makes sense to me.
You can still get involved in a number of perfectly unhealthy pastimes – so long as you at least keep your weight at a constant by burning off the excess calories – this really isn’t that hard to do – see point 5 below!
2. Watch what you eat
This is a really tricky one overseas. Either you find yourself in the western world scoffing every temptation that comes along (and there are MANY) or you’re in the developing world unsure of just what food is “safe”.
So. In the developing world, a great tip is to go for cooked meals over raw dishes. Heating up the food generally kills off that gut bacteria that’s going to send you to the bathroom throughout the night.
Be careful about salads – but not paranoid. If the restaurant’s a top quality place or commonly frequented by locals and foreigners, you’re probably safe.
As for drinks, I strongly advocate drinking tea – it’s typically the local beverage, and it differs wherever you are. If you do go for a cold drink, make sure the bottle lid hasn’t already been snapped open. And make it clear you don’t want ice in your drink.
As for Europe, North America, and so forth… Well, you’ve just gotta be careful. I’m lucky, since my body kicks up a stink if I put too much of the wrong fuel in it (literally! – Apologies; an insider joke for my fellow Crohn’s readers).
But for those with weight concerns, sometimes the best way to stay trim and healthy on holiday is by keeping a rough journal of how much you’re putting into your body.
You don’t have to order the salad on the menu every time you’re out, but you also don’t have to go for the fattiest thing available either.
3. Fruit is your friend
Wherever you’re headed, you’ll be able to tuck into some delicious and perfectly fresh fruit. Always try to make the most of this.
I know, it can be tricky if you’re in Asia or South America and you’re dubious about fleshy fruit giving you travel belly. But anything that can be peeled is still perfectly good for you – in fact, you can’t miss out on trying mangosteens, dragon fruit, or durian (if you dare!).
Sometimes people get a little carried away with calorie-counting – but it’s important to remember not all calories were born equal. Those you’ll pick up from eating a banana might tot up to the same number as a small chocolate bar, but they’ll be made up of drastically different substances. Snack on ‘real’ food and not sugary treats.
4. Don’t overdo it on the booze
It may be hard for some, but try your best to avoid going crazy when it comes to the amount of alcohol you’re putting into your body.
This is probably asking a lot, but if you at least keep some semblance of how much is going into your system you should be able to restrict the flow of fat to your gut.
I’m not much of a drinker myself – I prefer to awake each travel day fresh and ready to go, rather than wasting half my day lolling on the bed with a hangover (I’m not as sprightly as I once was!). But if you need extra convincing, cutting down on the booze also adds serious $$$ to spend on other things!
And don’t forget, alcohol is effectively just sugar – which is what it turns into in your stomach. So, it’s not surprising it’s so easy to begin piling on the pounds after knocking back a few too many.
5. Sight see the right way
Honestly, exercising isn’t a hard task for me or many of my fellow travellers. Why? Because we’re exploring! You’re out there walking the streets for hours each day, hitting kilometres worth of pavement. On foot is the best way to see everything up close anyway.
This exercise will have a double-fold positive impact on your health, as you’ll also sleep better because you will be feeling more relaxed.
Sleeping burns fat just as much as some minor forms of exercise do, so you’re effectively getting two benefits for the price of one.
6. Make your own meals
If you’re producing your own dishes from your holiday cottage or rented flat, you’ll know exactly how much is going into your system.
While you don’t have to necessarily eat something insanely nutritious, you will at least know there aren’t any damaging chemicals or additives going into your meal.
With the power in your own hands, you’ll find it considerably easier to stay on top of your health and weight at all times.
And in fact, while it can sometimes be hard to keep on top of your health while travelling, travel has also proven to have plenty of health benefits.
But with these six handy tips will see you go a long way to ensuring you stay in good shape, even after a long excursion overseas. Try to employ them the next time you’re away on holiday.