There’s nothing more annoying than returning home from a business trip abroad, or a holiday, and spending the next few days in bed feeling unbelievably ill. We’ve got some tips to help you avoid bringing unpleasant souvenirs home with you after travelling – good advice for staying healthy while travelling. First things first, boost your immune system before you leave! This will help your body fight off any contagious nasties you might pick up on your travels…
Ever returned home from holiday with a cold? Kick your Vitamin C intake up a level or two and make sure you’re getting your five-a-day of fruit and vegetables. Also stay active as much as possible. This might seem difficult as travel generally involves a lot of sitting (on a plane, in a car), but because exercise helps fuel your immune system, releases endorphins, and keeps you alert, it’s important that you don’t let your exercise routine slide any more than strictly necessary.
Adapt your exercise routine to suit your travel. If you feel you’ll miss working out in a gym, find a hotel that has a fitness centre. If you’re on holiday, you could take a bicycle tour, go horseback riding, or hiking – these fun forms of exercise will help you feel great, without needing to step foot in a gym!
Healthy travel habits
Pack a workout in your luggage. While you might not be able to pack the whole gym into your carry-on, you can at least pack a skipping rope, an inflatable pilates ball, or a resistance band, and get in a great workout in the privacy of your own hotel room. It helps to eat wholesome food that makes you feel good. If you have an eating plan/diet/dietary restrictions, you might find it difficult to stick to rules when you’re stuck in an airport, airplane or hotel…
However, if you bring your own snacks (biltong, raw almonds, berries, and dark chocolate), you can eat regularly – eating every two to three hours keeps your metabolism up and your sugar levels stable – which means you’ll have energy and feel good. Also eat a good meal before you depart. A good breakfast or lunch before you step on the plane (supplemented with great bring-your-own snacks) will keep your body fuelled.
Hotels with kitchenettes
Don’t skip meals. It’s tempting to do so when you’re travelling – you’re too busy sightseeing and having a good time to worry about food, but eating at regular intervals will help prevent a serious pig-out when you finally realise exactly how hungry you are. Plan your food prospects in advance.
Try to scope out shops near your hotel that sell fresh fruit and veg – choosing a hotel with a kitchenette means you’ll have somewhere to prepare some basic, healthy dishes for yourself. Carry hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes with you. Use them. You never know what germs are lurking on airplanes and in airports – washing your hands is a good way to stop those bugs from taking up residence inside you.
If you choose a hotel with a kitchenette, you’ll have a fridge to keep some fresh fruit and veg – which will make it easier for you to avoid unhealthy take-outs when you’re hungry. Keep clean. Wash your hands as often as possible, keep your nails clean and short, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Waterless hand sanitisers can be helpful for when you can’t get to the bathroom.
Eat good food
However, since they target bacteria, not viruses, don’t replace hand-washing entirely with hand-sanitising. This will help prevent contagious nasties carried by other travellers affecting you and making you sick. Stay informed about compulsory immunisations. If you need certain injections before travelling to a foreign country, make sure you get them in time. Consult a doctor or a travel clinic, as some immunisations need to be administered over a few weeks in order to be effective.
Avoid tap water when in developing countries. This means you can’t have the ice, or order water by the glass in restaurants, or in mixed drinks. You can’t even use it to brush your teeth – this water may be contaminated with parasites or even the virus that causes hepatitis. Rather don’t take a chance – drink bottled water – even a small amount of infected water can make you ill.
Sleep, exercise, repeat
Sleep when you can and make sure to get at least 6-7 hours in. If you can’t sleep, at least make sure you’re getting some rest and giving your body a chance to recuperate. Being sufficiently rested will help you cope with the stresses of travel. If you’re on the plane, you can perform these exercises every half hour to keep the blood flowing and prevent stiffness and blood clots:
- Raise your shoulders and rotate front to back, then back to front.
- Drop your chin to your chest. Nod up and down and side to side, pointing your chin to one shoulder, then the other.
- Clasp your fingers together, palms facing inward, and then stretch your arms out straight in front of you, palms facing out.
- With your heels on the floor, pull your toes up as far as possible. Hold for a few seconds, then release. Repeat.
- Lift one foot slightly off the floor and make small circular motions in each direction with your foot. Repeat with the both feet.
- Lift one heel as high as possible while keeping your toes on the floor. Hold for a few seconds, then release. Repeat with the other foot.
Once you’re back on home soil, it’s a good idea to head to your GP for a check-up, just to make sure that you’re healthy!