Travel is not all about rest and relaxation. Just the process of moving large distances from one place to the next, crossing continents and time zones, can be tiring and stressful.
But that is also where the adventure lies. By its very definition, travel is not about staying in one place, playing it safe. For the thrill and fulfillment of new experiences and new places, you have to be prepared to take the rough with the smooth, put yourself out there and perhaps take the occasional risk.
That does not mean, however, that you have to show a complete disregard for your health and well-being. On the contrary, the exertions of travel give you every reason to pay more attention to looking after yourself. Here are four ways you can put your health first as you travel.
Ok, so travel insurance won’t actually help keep you healthy as you travel. But it is so fundamentally important to have cover in case you do fall ill and need medical assistance while you are abroad that it is worth starting with.
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Whether it is a hospital admission or just a doctor’s appointment, medical care for foreign nationals carries high costs in many countries. Depending where you are, you could be talking enough to financially cripple you. That is why it is never worth taking the risk of travelling without insurance – you never know when a case of diarrhea, or heat stroke, or a nasty trip or fall might happen.
If you are a frequent flier and want to save some cash on your travel insurance, you might want to consider a multi-trip annual policy – travel insurance which covers you all year round. That way you only have to buy once, and not think about it again until next year.
You need plenty of fuel to keep you going when you travel. One mistake people make, especially when they are making long overland journeys away from main tourist centres, is they avoid eating because of a lack of ‘hygienic’ outlets on the way. But going hungry and letting your sodium levels drop is inviting fatigue and making dehydration more likely.
Street food the world over is not only perfectly fine to eat, it is often delicious. It just pays to follow a couple of rules. First, pick a popular joint where all the locals are eating – people do not eat from places that have a reputation for dishing up food poisoning. Second, avoid all raw salad and vegetables. The water they are washed in is the most likely source of bacteria and parasites which could upset your delicate constitution.
Finally, if you really want to be careful, avoid meat and dairy. There is not much that can go wrong with a well-cooked vegan snack on the road to keep you going.
It should go without saying, but hydration when you travel, especially in hot climates, is even more important than food. Stick to water, and make sure it is bottled. Coffee and alcohol might be your beverage of choice, but as diuretics they do not do much good for hydration.
Even at rest, most adults do not drink the recommended amount they need each day. If you really want to get precise about the volumes of water you should be drinking, use this formula.
Even the most adventurous and active of us need some down time to let our bodies and minds recover from the exertions of travel. If you have just spent a good 12 hours flying, or you’ve had a couple of days on the road, or you’ve returned to base after an adrenaline-filled trek doing whatever madcap activity takes your fancy, do yourself a favour. Have a rest.
And while it might be tempting to sunbathe by a pool or on a beach for a day or two, bear in mind that exposure to the sun on its own, without doing anything else, can wear you out. The heat from the sun will cause your body to fight to control its temperature, while UV radiation causes chemical changes in your skin. Let this go on for too long and you run the risk of heat exhaustion.