Travel is one of life’s great pleasures, offering the chance to experience different cultures, visit amazing landscapes and historic sites, taste delicious flavours and open your mind to the wonders of the world around us. However, it’s difficult to enjoy all of this when you are feeling sick, tired or jet-lagged.
Here are a few simple healthy travel tips to ensure you stay well while you're on the go, no matter how many long-haul flights or roadside food stalls come your way.
Before You Go
Before heading overseas, visit your doctor to get a general checkup along with any vaccinations recommended for the area you are travelling to. Make sure any medications you take are clearly labeled in their original packaging, and ask your doctor for a letter stating what the medication is, how much you take, and that it’s for your personal use. It’s also a good idea to pack a broad-spectrum antibiotic, just in case.
Aeroplane cabins are notoriously low in humidity, but there are a few things you can do to avoid becoming dehydrated. Sipping on water and juices while avoiding caffeine and alcohol will help. It’s also a good idea to pack a small tube of moisturiser to prevent your skin from drying out. If you are prone to dry, itchy eyes, consider taking some saline eye-drops on-board as well.
Deep vein thrombosis or DVT (where blood clots form after long periods of sitting still) can be a concern for some travellers on long-haul flights, but it is easy to avoid. Stand up and take a walk down the aisle roughly once per hour to get the blood flowing. You can also do basic exercises such as ankle circles and knee raises while seated.
How to Beat Jet-Lag
Anybody who has crossed time zones while travelling will have experienced some of the symptoms of jet lag – insomnia, exhaustion, irritability, headaches and erratic appetite. Again, staying hydrated and avoiding alcohol and caffeine on the plane can minimize the effects of jet lag.
Getting a good night’s rest before you travel and trying not to fall asleep immediately upon arrival will also help. Try some light exercise when you arrive at your destination and set your watch to your destination time as soon as you board the plane to get accustomed to the new time zone sooner.
When You Arrive
Sightseeing can be tiring, particularly if you are moving around and staying in a different place each night. Be sure to include some leisure time in your travel itinerary to avoid getting run down, and make sure you don’t over-exert yourself when exercising – particularly in hot climates.
Protect yourself from the sun with comfortable shoes, a hat, and sunscreen. It’s also a good idea to carry small bottles of insect repellent and hand sanitiser as you travel around.
Digestive issues are probably the most common health complaint for travellers. Avoid pesky tummy bugs by using only bottled water to drink and brush your teeth, and don’t put ice in drinks as freezing does not kill germs. Steer clear of uncooked food including salads and any meat that looks as if it has been sitting for a while. Finally, take a quality probiotic supplement every day to support good digestive health.