13 Tips for staying healthy while traveling

It was a small sniffle that became a full blown cold when I reached my destination. The result - loss of taste, a mild headache and loss of sleep. Though minor, these niggles did dent my holiday experience. 

Check out these tips for staying healthy while traveling - just so that you do not face that little dent in your vacation bliss. 

Being under-weather feels awful – no matter when it is- whether at home or at work or worse, when you are on holiday. What makes it awful is that you end up missing out on tons of things while you recuperate. The enjoyment quotient of your holiday does fall down, making your possible best memories into your not-too-great memories of the place.

Ami Bhat Travel Author Writer
Staying healthy while traveling helps you enjoy the place much better

Fortunately, there are ways of staying healthy while traveling – at least avoid common ailments. In this post, I will be sharing 13 tips on how to stay healthy while traveling. The tips range from things that you can do before your journey to what can help you during the trip. None of these is too complicated but they go a long way in ensuring that you have the best of your travel and holiday. So here goes –

My 13 travel tips for a healthy holiday

1. Ensure you have the necessary vaccinations and immunizations

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With the recent pandemic situation, it has almost become mandatory to have completed your vaccinations. While that might be the case with the CoVid19 vaccines, make sure the rest of your immunization requirements are up to date. There might be additional boosters or doses required if you are traveling to certain tropical countries– like the one for Yellow fever when traveling to certain African countries. It is best to check the travel advisories of your destination so that you have the right information and are well prepared.

2. Catch enough sleep during your travel and holiday

If you are anything like me, you will be all upbeat and excited about your upcoming travel. Or it could be that you get stressed and suffer from travel anxiety. Either way, be cognizant of the situation and try not to compromise on your sleep. Very often the lack of good rest is what sets off minor illnesses during your travel. Depending on your situation, pace yourself before the trip. Use warm baths and meditation techniques to relax and sleep well. Lack of sleep can weaken your immune system and make you susceptible to infections.

Sleep travel

For long journeys, carry a travel pillow and a light shawl. I like wearing warm socks as it makes me comfortable on those flights and allows me to get a shut-eye. There are many who find themselves relaxing with eye masks.

It is likely that by the time you reach your destination, you may have jet lag. Plan your itinerary such that you adjust your sleep patterns in the next one or two days. One good practice is that you adjust to your destination’s time zone before you set out on travel. A few days prior to your departure, adjust your bedtime to the new time zone.

3. Include some form of exercise while traveling

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  Image Credits: Sarangib Under CC0 Public Domain

Plan a small set of exercises if you have done your hotel booking in a place with a gym. If not, include a run or some yoga or pilates in your room. Just to keep up a routine if you have one and add that little immunity by way of staying healthy. Sometimes, a 15 minutes stretch-out is also, useful. And hey, its fun too, especially if you are running along the roads and the beach. 

Opt for a walking tour or a biking tour instead of the standard bus tours – not only do they help you explore better but also, add the element of staying fit while traveling.

4. Stay hydrated – an important part of staying healthy while traveling

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Image Credits: Pixabay under CC0

Guilty here! I tend to miss out on the most important part of any travel. This should be literally rule number one. I tend to be so excited about seeing things that I forget this basic rule. One tip that I have and use religiously is adding a reminder every hour to drink tons of water. Another habit that I have gotten into is to have one or two full glasses of water as soon as I get up. It helps your immune system enormously.

I recall this from my college trek where we were busy looking for some green specimens for Botany at Kodaikanal and with all the excitement and fun, a friend literally fainted mid-way with cramps owing to a poor intake of water. Gosh! An extreme case but could happen to anyone.

5. Don’t miss your breakfast

Always start your day with a hearty breakfast - especially when you are traveling
Always start your day with a hearty breakfast – especially when you are traveling

All of us know that breakfast in general is the most important meal of the day. Even more so, when you are traveling. In fact, it is possibly the only meal that you might have in your hotel before setting out for a complete day of exploration. Make sure you grab all those wholesome cereals, local fruits, cheese and egg dishes. I would not say no to fresh fruit juices, smoothies and milk. Eat enough so that even if there is a delay in grabbing your next few meals, you are energized and good to go.

6. Be cognizant of the foreign food

Sri Lankan local food - stringhoppers and coconut curry
Sri Lankan local food – string hoppers and coconut curry

I keep saying what is travel without tasting the local food. And I stand by it. But sometimes, one needs to be cognizant of the fact that not all foreign food is something that you are used to and you are likely to get affected in some ways. I remember this one time when we were in Sri Lanka and we went berserk with the string hoppers and coconut curry. It was not too foreign considering we have the same dishes in India but I guess, the way it was made was a little off for my poor tummy. Thank God for the Digenes that I had carried. On the whole, I realized it is that best that you try everything in moderation 🙂 All was well in the end. 

Of course, besides not subjecting yourself to excesses, ensure that the place you are eating from is clean. If you buy fruits, ensure they are washed well. Street food needs to be had with caution. Also, be aware of the ingredients used – especially if you have any food allergies.

7. Carry healthy snacks for your travel

It is always good to carry a few snacks on your travel. You never know when your flight is delayed or if you visit places that do not have an easy access to restaurants or grocery stores. Include energy bars and dry fruits in your backpacks. Not only are they wholesome but make great hungry vanquishers. Avoid excess of sugary snacks.

8. Plan for the change in weather & acclimatization

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Image Credits: Pixabay under CC0

Seems obvious but most of us tend to ignore it by not packing the right clothes or gadgets to deal with it. Research is extremely important to know what you are going to be facing when heading to your destination. Make a list of clothes, shoes and possible medicines that you need to carry with you to face that weather. Sunscreen and soothing lotions are a must depending on the weather. And I tell you from my experience in Goa this year, despite taking precautions, I had some awful sunburns. And no, I am never putting up those blotchy photos – the other downside of not taking enough care.

If you are planning a high-altitude destination like Ladakh, make sure you account for a day extra. These kinds of destinations need some acclimatization to prevent common but severe illnesses like Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). For such destinations, the weather too, is extreme – extremely cold but with bright sun on your head. Make sure you dress in layers and have sunscreen to block those sunburns.

9. Carry the right backpack

A good backpack has lumbar support and a lot of cushion
A good backpack has lumbar support and a lot of cushion

This is a must for all your travel. Make sure your backpacks have good quality lumbar support and cushion – especially if you are going to use them for long hours. Strap up properly – do not keep your bags low on your back. The low-hanging bags hurt your shoulders and back and can cause issues in the long run. Avoid overfilling them and whenever possible, walk without them.

10. Don’t over-kill by trying to do it all

Know your limits. A lot of travelers go berserk, trying to see every small thing. There isn’t much point in doing so for all you are left with is a frantic feeling and exhaustion. Ask yourselves after the trip – how was the trip and what do you remember of it?  Most likely the answer would be “exhausting ” and “lots of things but nothing in particular”. My advice here is to take it easy and let go of a few things if you do not have time. It’s hard but better than falling sick with exertion.

11. Carry your own medical kit

While we are all cognizant of these facts, what is important to know is that you need to be prepared for every eventuality. There are chances that despite the precautions, you do have a mild form of stomach upset or fever when you are traveling. In my list of things to pack for traveling, there is always a medical kit for such eventualities. While you can always buy somewhere you are, sometimes owing to various reasons, it becomes difficult. Some reasons are – 

  • OTC medicine rules. Not every country has the same rules when it comes to medicines. Even the most common ones in some countries need a prescription
  • Language barriers – Reminds me of Thailand where I was not sure if I was picking up the right medicine for everything was written in Thai
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Image Credits: Pixabay Under CC0

 Here is my suggested list of what can go into your travel medical kit – 
(Disclaimer: These work well for me. However, pls be aware of your medical allergies and consult your doctor before adding all these to your kit. Not all medicines are suitable for all)

  1. Analgesic / Antipyretic- generally Paracetamol
  2. Gas and Indigestion tablets
  3. Anti-acidity tablets
  4. Motion Sickness Medicine
  5. Anti-inflammatory tablets – in case you have hurt yourself and have a sprain/ swelling 
  6. Anti-inflammatory cream/ spray – like Volini or Moov
  7. Crepe bandages and band-aids
  8. A small bottle of Dettol or Savlon
  9. Cough/ Cold medicines
  10. Sun-Screen – not the cosmetic kind but with some good SPF
  11. Mosquito repellent
  12. Calamine lotion – soothing against insect bites and sunburns and I really, swear by this.
  13. Hand sanitizer
  14. Mouth Gel for mouth ulcers

This should help prevent possible eventualities and I hope you never have to use them.

12. Sanitizers and wipes on the way

I highly recommend carrying a bottle of sanitizer or disinfectant wipes for your journeys. While it is always good to wash your hands (and you must do it as frequently as possible), sometimes the washrooms themselves are not very clean. In such cases, I fall back on the sanitizers.

13. Lastly, get some alone time

Sunset cruise Gokarna - a sensorial experience

It might seem funny to a lot of you but the reality is that there is always some mental stress and anxiety that you deal with. This is when you need a little alone time – to take in the sights, destress and relax. Make travel therapeutic by squeezing in this little space. Sit down and stare at the sunset. Watch the ocean waves and breathe in the fresh air. Let your thoughts wander and enjoy the feeling of well-being. This little time that you get does wonders in keeping you healthy while traveling or even otherwise!

That’s it from me for now. Do remember to share them around and have a safe and healthy holiday!

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